- a tongue of
- We have already in Chapter
11 discussed the meaning of Pentecost. Again, it is being
used to stand for eloquence in speech. But here Dimmesdale is
also saying that he is a sinner who does not have the right to
administer the Holy Sacrament. There is a great irony again in
his referring to Pentecost, as this is the grace of the Holy
Ghost for sinners, but he is not able to receive it, and thus his
gift for speech is mere hypocrisy--no matter how much he tries to
humble himself and tell the truth--he needs to publicly confess,
repent, seek forgiveness, and wait for God's grace.
- Hester replies that penitence need not be public in church,
but can be private, and that doing good works stands for the same
thing. But this is no relief for Dimmesdale, who realizes the
futility of penance--without penitence--and good works more than
- magnetic ...sl17.html#g23
- Twice the author refers to magnetism in this chapter.
Magnetism was known in Puritan days, but by 1850 it was still
poorly understood. Some quacks were sensationalizing it in
traveling shows, capitalizing on its general mysteriousness
and the superstitious interpretations of common folk who
thought there was something of the Devil behind it. It was
still a strong word to use for psychological control of one
- Its result, on earth,
could hardly fail to be insanity... ...sl17.html#g23
- It was not the fact that Hester realized that Chillingworth
was irritating and torturing Dimmesdale's conscience that is
the point here--it is that if Chillingworth drove the pastor
crazy, then he would not have a chance to act upon his clear
conscience, would not repent, and would never be saved. This
would separate him from God forever--and prevent any chance of
the two of them being reunited in Heaven. Hester is moving from
thinking about the pastor in terms of abstract morality, to a
more emotional, direct love, now that she has the chance to be
with him in this close meeting. Her speech, using his first name,
is appropriately impassioned and carries the story on.
- What we did had a
consecration of its own,... ...sl17.html#g32
- "What we did" could not be told in a book in 1850.
This is as close as we get to it, and it is prettily covered over
with sentiment--a sentiment that many illicit lovers no doubt
have used through the years to reassure each other that their
love is true and stronger than society's condemnation.
In a few minutes Arthur will realize that he is facing just
that condemnation if Chillingworth goes public. The great love of
the few minutes past seems to be less important to him--what can
Hester do with this guy?
- Then, all was
- Hester has decided for the two of them that they will go
away. In doing so, she has decided that they will go together.
Thus she has also decided that they will live together. Thus
she has decided that they will share each other's fate.
Thus they will continue to consummate their love. It is
strange that Dimmesdale agrees without speaking. Why didn't
he think of this first? Does he have some internal resistance,
or does he have other plans in mind that he will not mention?
Summary. From here until the end of the book
we expect you to write your own summaries, following the models
of preceding chapters. E-mail to EricEldred@usa.net
your summary (after reading the chapter carefully). You will
get in return e-mail similar summaries made by others, which you
may then compare with your own to see if you have understood
the chapter. Use "Ch. 17 SL Summary" as the Subject:
Suggested MLA citations to this web page,
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Use as in ?Help? page citation guide.
Eldred, Eric. <cite>Notes to Ch. 17, The Scarlet
Letter.</cite> <br />
1999. 23 Sep. 1999. <br />
Eldred, Eric. Notes to Ch. 17, The Scarlet
Letter. 1999. 23 Sep. 1999.
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