In Chapter 20 of The Scarlet Letter, how has Dimmesdale changed physically since his last meeting with Hester?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After his meeting with Hester, Dimmesdale's positive physical transformation is nothing short of a miracle.  "The excitement of Mr. Dimmesdale's feelings as he returned from his interview with Hester lent him unaccustomed physical energy, and hurried him townward at a rapid pace" (204).  This description should amaze anyone who was used to the minister hanging his head down, looking as pale as death, and clutching his heart.  It is the vow between Hester and Dimmesdale to run away with Pearl that has strengthened him, which shows in itself the subconscious effects of the minister's commitment to sin.  I find it incredibly titillating the action words used to describe Dimmesdale's physical change.  "He leaped across the plashy places, thrust himself through the clinging underbrush, climbed the ascent, plunged into the hollow, and overcame, in short, all the difficulties of the track with an unweariable activity that astonished him" (204).  Our weary and conflicted minister is now leaping and thrusting and climbing and plunging!  This is essentially what got him into trouble in the first place!  Ha! 

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The Scarlet Letter

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