The Scarlet Letter Questions and Answers
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Chapter 11 and Theme The Scarlet Letter What are all the ways Chapter 11 is significant to the theme of The Scarlet Letter?

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What strikes me most of all about this chapter from this excellent novel is the way that it presents us with a portrait of Dimmesdale, and in particular how the guilt of his hidden sin that burdens him so profoundly and impacts his health is ironically making him successful in his job as a preacher and pastor. This points towards the hypocrisy of Puritain society and the way that those who love Dimmesdale because of his preaching would be the first to condemn him for his sin of fornication and adultery.

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In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, in Chapter 11—entitled "The Interior of a Heart"—the theme I find most prevalent is the dichotomy of sin. Sin has the power to destroy but also to transform. Such is the case with Roger Chillingworth. His sin of jealousy has transformed him into a man intent not just on revenge, but in a long-suffering revenge, visited on Rev. Dimmesdale.

Calm, gentle, passionless, as he appeared, there was yet, we fear, a quiet depth of malice hitherto latent, but active...

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