In chapter 20 of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, Hester and Dimmesdale plan to leave the colony on the fourth day en route for the Old World. Dimmesdale’s decision to leave with Hester fills him with a sense of freedom from his place of torture, Boston. By creating false hopes for the future, he relinquishes his suffering from his guilt conscience. When Dimmesdale returns from the forest, he is not sure that the recent event with Hester and Pearl was really true. But seeing and Hester and Pearl revives his dreams of a better future together. Their meeting has changed him; he sees everything differently.
Suddenly he feels the freedom to do things that he might have done before. He meets several people along the way home in which he has impulses to do wick and evil things. The first person he meets is the one of the oldest Deacons of his congregation. He is tempted to say evil things about the Communion Supper, one of the most scared of Puritan churches. Dimmesdale continues onward and meets the eldest female member of his church. He again is tempted to tell her an unanswerable argument against the immortality of the human soul. The next person he meets is the youngest female member of his parish.
He has to restrain himself from whispering wick and evil things that might mislead her. Next, he meets a group of young Puritan children. He must stop himself from teaching them “evil words. ” He walks onward and meets a “drunken seamen” from the ship on which he will sail. He wants greets the sailor and preach to him. He again restrains himself. The last person he meets is Mistress Hibbins. She wants know if he had been with the “Black Man” in the forest. Dimmesdale responds to her that he was with his friend, Apostle Eliot. Hibbins does not believe him. Dimmesdale arrives home and realizes his house looks strange and different.
Moments later, Chillingsworth arrives at his door asking about his health. The minister informs the physician that he no longer needs his medical drugs. His tone of voice tells the old man that he no longer “trusted friend” but how his “bitterest enemy. ” After Chillingsworth leaves, Dimmesdale composes an inspired sermon for the Election Sermon. Dimmesdale’s wick and unusual actions comes from the sense of freedom he believes he has. His views of his surroundings are different because he believes he is different. He feels that since he is has broken some many laws, that it is his obligation to continue to be evil. And evil he became.