In The Scarlet Letter, how does Dimmesdale torture himself in chapter 11? 

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missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chillingworth does do some orchestrating of Dimmesdale as a puppet, although Dimmesdale's own torture in that situation is remaining clueless as to the nature from which the torture is derived. 

His own torture that he cast upon himself with no help from Chillingworth came from Dimmesdale's own preaching. He loved sharing truth with his people, yet by not confessing his great sin, he lived a complete and total lie:

It was his genuine impulse to adore the truth... He longed to speak out, from his own pulpit, at the full height of his voice, and tell the people what he was.

During this time, he was becoming an increasingly better speaker. The people were growing in their respect for him. He only longed to say to them amidst their great reverence for his holiness that:

I, your, pastor, whom you so reverence and trust, am utterly a pollution and a lie!

The Puritan way made this sin even more plain to him on a regular basis and he dwelt on it day and night. 

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The Scarlet Letter

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