In Ch. 17
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Hester tells Dimmesdale he has withheld confession long enough to have to die for his sin, as though he has traded his own soul, his own daughter, his own love all in order to preserve a semblance of self-preservation.Hester advises Dimmesdale to leave the settlement and go into the wilderness where he can live in peace. He declines the very thought, but she presses him to then take a new name and go to Europe. Dimmesdale says, "thou tellest of running a race to a man whose knees are tottering beneath him!"