Chapter 20 – The Minister in a Maze
Dimmesdale leaves the forest, and for a moment he thinks he has been
dreaming, but when he looks back he sees Pearl dancing because he has gone. He turns over the plan in his mind and decides that going to Europe was the best choice. Co-incidentally there is a vessel in
the harbor, sailing for England soon, and Hester will secure passage for their escape.
Dimmesdale will have time to give the Election Sermon, which will enable him
to terminate his career honorably. Suddenly he feels like a new man and he walks with vigor.
He happens upon Mistress Hibbins who invites him to the forest where she
knows he will see the black man when midnight comes. Dimmesdale hurries away and returns home. He lies to Chillingworth about what he has been doing and goes to his study to write his Election Sermon.
It is amazing what love can do, and this has invigorated Dimmesdale who now
has a new purpose in life. The spiritual battle that he has fought melts away and he feels a new freedom from the bonds of Puritanical life.
There is an interesting conversation between Chillingworth and Dimmesdale,
which is full of irony. Chillingworth remarks that Dimmesdale’s congregation may find their ill Pastor gone the next year, and Dimmesdale responds, “Yea, to another world.” The two mean different
destinations, one being hell and the other being Europe.