In Ch. 20
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Dimmesdale returns to town thoroughly aware of having a new perception of life. He has much more energy than when he left only two days earlier, and everything looks different to him. Three times in a row he is approached by various people, and he struggles not to utter blasphemy. He is even tempted to teach dirty words to a group of small Puritan children.
Mistress Hibbins overhears him complain that he is haunted and tempted. She stops and asks Dimmesdale when he will be returning to the forest—so that she may join him. He tells her he is never going back, to which she replies that at midnight they will soon be together in the forest. She then departs, leaving Dimmesdale terrified of what he has done with Hester.
Dimmesdale finally returns home and enters his study. Chillingworth enters and offers to make some medicine for Dimmesdale so that he will have enough energy to write his Election Sermon. The Election Sermon is meant to be the highlight of the clergyman's career to date, and it is an extremely important speech. Dimmesdale declines the offer and instead orders some food, which he eats "with ravenous appetite." He then sits down and starts writing his sermon, continuing all through the night and even well into the morning.