3 SummaryChillingworth continues to play mind games with Dimmesdale, making his revenge as terrible as possible. The minister does not trust his doctor, but he has no proof of him betraying him so he continues on. Dimmesdale begins to have visions, and in one of his visions he sees a scarlet “A,” just like Hester’s, upon his own chest Dimmesdale’s suffering inspires him to deliver some of his most powerful sermons. Dimmesdale begins to torture himself physically by scourging himself with a whip, fasting, and holding extended vigils, during which he stays awake throughout the night meditating upon his sin. Dimmesdale climbs the scaffold to have a vigil there. As Dimmesdale stands upon the scaffold, his mind turns to absurd thoughts. He almost laughs when he sees Reverend Wilson, who was coming from the deathbed of Governor Winthrop, but Wilson passes without noticing him. Dimmesdale laughs aloud and is answered by a laugh from Pearl, whose presence he had not noticed. Hester and Pearl had also been at Winthrop’s deathbed because she had been asked to make the governor’s burial robe. Dimmesdale invites them to join him on the scaffold, which they do. The three hold hands, and the minister feels energized and warmed by their presence. Pearl innocently asks Dimmesdale to stand there with them at noon tomorrow but the minister says no, not until judgment day. Suddenly, a meteor brightens the dark sky, momentarily illuminating their surroundings. When the minister looks up, he sees an “A” in the sky, marked out in dull red light. At the same time, Pearl points to a figure standing there, and they discover it is Chillingworth. Dimmesdale asks Hester who Chillingworth really is. But Hester, sworn to secrecy, cannot reveal her husband’s identity. Chillingworth approaches and coaxes Dimmesdale down. Dimmesdale and Chillingworth return home. The following day, the minister preaches his most powerful sermon to date. The town writes of anything amiss as religious related.
4 ThemesIdentity- Dimmesdale struggles against a socially determined identity. As the community’s minister, he is more symbol than human being. Except for Chillingworth, those around the minister willfully ignore his obvious anguish, misinterpreting it as holiness.Sin- For Dimmesdale, the “burden” of his sin gives him “sympathies so intimate with the sinful brotherhood of mankind, so that his heart vibrate in unison with theirs.” His eloquent and powerful sermons derive from this sense of empathy.Fear – You cannot escape the skeletons in your closet.
5 SymbolsThe meteor- As Dimmesdale stands on the scaffold with Hester and Pearl in Chapter 12, a meteor traces out an “A” in the night sky. To Dimmesdale, the meteor implies that he should wear a mark of shame just as Hester does. The meteor is interpreted differently by the rest of the community, which thinks that it stands for “Angel” and marks Governor Winthrop’s entry into heaven.
6 CharactersRoger Chillingworth – In these chapters begins to reveal just how evil he is. He displays himself as a malevolent figure. He violates Dimmesdale's heart and soul to see how he will react. Of human compassion, he has none.Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale - Dimmesdale struggles with his knowledge of his sin and his desire for penance. He knows his actions have fallen short of both God's standards and his own, and he fears this represents his lack of salvation. In an attempt to seek salvation, he fasts until he faints and whips himself on the shoulders until he bleeds. But these punishments are done in private rather than in public and do not provide the cleansing Dimmesdale seeks and needs.Hester Prynne – Hester continues to stand on her ownPearl – Continues to be as defiant as ever. Also begins to show a slight distain for Dimmesdale after he refuses to stand with her and Hester in the daylight.
7 Literary DevicesIrony - Chillingworth acts friendly to Dimmesdale, not letting Dimmesdale know that Chillingworth knows about his adultery with his wife, Hester. This is an example of dramatic irony. Parallelism – “His intellectual gifts, his moral perceptions, his power of experiencing and communicating emotion” Repetition - "As at the waving of a magician’s wand, uprose a grisly phantom,—uprose a thousand phantoms"