What does Chillingworth decide that Dimmesdale's problem is?This question is about Chapter 9: "The Leech".  I was wondering if this is just speaking of Chillingworth's description that states a...

What does Chillingworth decide that Dimmesdale's problem is?

This question is about Chapter 9: "The Leech".  I was wondering if this is just speaking of Chillingworth's description that states a "soreness" of the spirit.

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noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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The ninth chapter of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter takes a closer look at the figure of Roger Chillingworth, which is the name that Hester Prynne's husband has given himself upon returning to the town after being gone for two years. Hawthorne tells us the Chillingworth/Prynne took on the role of physician in the town and that he had "had chosen for his spiritual guide the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale."

It did not take a physician, however, to realize that something was physically wrong with Dimmesdale. His paleness and "emaciated" state were easy enough to recognize. Not only did Chillingworth search for a medicinal cure for Dimmesdale, but also he "was strongly moved to look into the character and qualities of the patient." Eventually, Chillingworth even manages to move into the same house as Dimmesdale.

Chillingworth observes such active and vigorous mental abilities in Dimmesdale that he decides to "go deep into his patient's bosom, delving among his principles, prying into his recollections, and probing everything with a cautious touch, like a treasure-seeker in a dark cavern." Chillingworth believes that Dimmesdale has some emotionally-charged "secret" that is causing his body to become ill.

It is not until Chapter 10, though, that Chillingworth confronts Dimmesdale about the "trouble in your soul." Dimmesdale, however, refuses to reveal any spiritual issues to a medical doctor. Upset at the physician, Dimmesdale "rushed out of the room."

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