in Ch. 20
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Dimmesdale's confusion and changed spirit are clearly results of his passionate bonding with Hester in the woods. Still, the evil thoughts that he keeps having are difficult to explain. It is likely that Hester has infected him with her passion to the point that he is willing to break with the Puritanical strictness and start "living" in the romantic sense. But he naturally assumes that the devil is at work instead, and asks, "Did I make a contract with him in the forest, and sign it with my blood?" This reference to the Black Man, from whom Hester has claimed to have received her letter, is a fulfillment of Pearl's questions in the earlier pages.