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What unusual gesture does Dimmesdale make constantly in The Scarlet Letter?

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ebabys31 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 30, 2012 at 1:50 AM via web

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What unusual gesture does Dimmesdale make constantly in The Scarlet Letter?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 30, 2012 at 3:02 AM (Answer #1)

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Dimmesdale's gesture, which is described as having "grown involuntary with him" in Chapter 17, is to clutch at his heart with his hand, or at least to hold his hand against his heart. This clearly suggests the guilt that Dimmesdale carries with him, a guilt which is not released until he confesses at the end of the book. Many of the witnesses to the confession, Hawthorne tells the reader, claim that they saw the letter "A" imprinted in the flesh over Dimmesdale's heart when he confessed. There are a number of theories as to why this could have been so, but clearly the image, as well as Dimmesdale's gesture, indicate a heartsick man.

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