Student Question

Despite his failing health, how are Dimmesdale's fortunes as a minister?

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Chapter 9 begins showing the contrast between Dimmesdale's declining health and his skill as a minister. It was during this time that Roger Chillingworth chose Dimmesdale as his spiritual guide. To most of the town, this was a blessing. Dimmesdale's health was declining, so having the learned physician care for the minister was Providence. The town, not knowing the secret identity of Roger Chillingworth or his purpose for becoming close to Dimmesdale, assumed that their beloved Dimmesdale was growing weak because of his total devotion to study and his "scrupulous fulfilment of parochial duty." Chapter 11 describes the popularity of Reverend Dimmesdale despite his failing health. It was his humility and anguish of daily life that brought forth his rise in popularity. Dimmesdale's intellectual gifts, his moral perceptions, and his ability to communicate emotion attracted people to him. Other clergymen lacked the "tongue of flame" that Dimmesdale possessed. It was Dimmesdale's own pain that gaves him sympathy and understanding of others in pain. However, the public respect that Dimmesdale received only added to his tortured soul.

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