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11. There are a number of ways to approach a topic like this. You can talk about Dimmesdale as a hypocrite who suffers from hidden sin or as a scholar-recluse who falls out of his ivory tower. You can ask yourself whether Dimmesdale is a better or a worse person than Hester Prynne. Or you can begin by examining the relationship between Dimmesdale and Chillingworth. Whichever way you decide to tackle Dimmesdale, you should look at his speech to Hester in the market-place, his quarrel with Chillingworth in Chapter 11, his moral collapse in the forest, and his confession at the end. (See the discussion of Dimmesdale under Characters, and also "The Recognition," "The Leech and His Patient," "The Interior of a Heart," "A Flood of Sunshine," "The Minister in a Maze," and "The Revelation." -
12. You will want to trace the shifting meanings of the scarlet letter from its first appearance on Hester's dress to its final aspect on her tombstone. You should ask yourself some questions about the letter, such as: Why is it embroidered with golden thread? Why is it so fascinating to Pearl? Why does Hester try to throw it away in the woods? And why can't she get rid of it? How do different characters in the novel perceive the letter? How do their perceptions change over the years? Think about those questions, and then take a look at the section on Symbolism.