Let’s Run Away To Europe (The Scarlet Letter, Ch. 20)

Previously on The Scarlet Letter…

We witnessed Hester and Dimmesdale’s secret meeting in the woods, where they discus running away to Europe together to start a new life. At first they are joyous about it, but then Pearl shows up and basically reminds Hester that she has no identity to her and in this village other than the “A.” 

The minister had inquired of Hester, with no little interest, the precise time at which the vessel might be expected to depart. It would probably be on the fourth day from the present. “This is most fortunate!” he had then said to himself. Now, why the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale considered it so very fortunate we hesitate to reveal. Nevertheless–to hold nothing back from the reader–it was because, on the third day from the present, he was to preach the Election Sermon; and, as such an occasion formed an honourable epoch in the life of a New England Clergyman, he could not have chanced upon a more suitable mode and time of terminating his professional career. 

What luck! There’s a boat leaving in just a few days and Hester can get them on it!

Dimmesdale is not too excited about running away with Hester, but eventually the idea must have grown on him, after all, he’s making preparations to run away with her.  He is also excited that his last sermon would be the “Election Sermon.”  The “Election Sermon” is a sermon basically about how to elect officials, which would be great, because after Dimmesdale is gone they would probably elect a new minister. Also, the “Election Sermon” was, for some reason, concise red the high point of a preacher’s career. 

Right in the quote where the narrator is talking about the sermon, there’s a little tangent where the narrator hesitates to tell the reader why Dinmesdale found the timing fortunate. This is a little strange, because normally the narrator would just say it. It is because this is an effort by the narrator to accent the importance of something. By threatening to not tell us what it is, the narrator makes us want to hear it more, and makes the passage stand out. 

-Paulie 🙂


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