Chapter 11 - The Interior of a Heart
Chillingworth is now convinced that he knows Dimmesdale’s secret and now
heightens his torture of the Minister.
At present, Dimmesdale does not realize Chillingworth’s motives, as he still works cautiously and subtly. Slowly Dimmesdale is coming under the evil influence of Chillingworth. His popularity with the congregation grows and grows. They view their Minister as a champion fighting against evil. In his sermons he makes veiled disclosures concerning his own sinful nature, but this only convinces his followers of his holiness. He often keeps an all night vigil and beats himself with a whip.
One night he leaves his home in his clerical clothes to seek some peace.
Dimmesdale seems to have no will of his own and he is certainly incapable of
making the confession that would release him from his ills.
Chillingworth is convinced of the Minister’s guilt and relishes his campaign
to wreak vengeance on this man that seduced his wife and fathered Pearl.
Dimmesdale tries a pathetic public confession, but the congregation only
loves him more, seeing him as pious and good.
Hawthorne cleverly makes sure that the reader is in no doubt that the
Minister is a sinner whose troubles are largely of his own making, but he receives sympathy from the reader because Chillingworth aggravates his suffering.
However, Chillingworth’s vengeance is coming at a cost. He too now has the persona of an emissary of the devil. He is a twisted soul encased in a twisted body, a “poor forlorn creature”.