Chapter 10 – The Leech and his Patient
Chillingworth takes on the role of advocate and he will administer justice
on the head of Pearl’s father.
He suspects Dimmesdale as Pearl’s father, and most of this Chapter deals with his endeavors to establish the truth. He gets Dimmesdale to agree that Hester is better of with her sin publicly displayed than having it concealed and eating away at her soul. This is in response to Dimmesdale’s revelation that he is not sick in body, but suffers from a sickness of the soul. Chillingworth says that he will be unable to treat Dimmesdale until he confides in him. Dimmesdale responds by saying that he will not reveal his torment to “an earthly physician”.
While Dimmesdale sleeps deeply in a chair, Chillingworth examines Dimmesdale
and pulls aside the Ministers vestment and stares in wonder at what is on his chest. Chillingworth reacts “With what a ghastly rapture, as it were, too mighty to be expressed only by the eye and features, and
therefore bursting forth through the whole ugliness of his figure, and making itself even riotously manifest by the extravagant gestures with which he threw up his arms towards the ceiling, and stamped his foot upon
the floor.” The relevance of this passage will be made clear later on.
We now have an insight into the evil intentions of Chillingworth and his
determination to obtain revenge on Dimmesdale.
Chillingworth is fuelling the struggle, which Dimmesdale is experiencing
within his soul, and he is losing this struggle. Despite this, he still cannot confess publicly his sin.
There is a brief moment in this Chapter when the four main characters meet
again. Chillingworth and Dimmesdale are looking out of the window when they notice Hester and Pearl in the cemetery.
Pearl is showing off as usual, by dancing on one of the graves. Sensing that they are being watched, they look up to the window and Pearl says, “Come away, mother! Come away, or yonder old black man will catch you!” This young child has a clear view as to what Chillingworth represents.
The reader is not clear as to what Chillingworth has seen on Dimmesdale’s
chest, only that it has induced great excitement.