the scarlet letter
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I think Dimmesdale is, for the first time, showing some courage here. Hester reveals that Chillingworth is her husband, and it is clear that Dimmesdale has crossed the point of no return. 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. And in return, he has lost his self-respect and will to live. Had Dimmesdale confessed earlier, there might have been the possibility not only for redemption, but also to start anew by leaving town with Hester and his daughter. He believes the possibility still exists, but the crush of shame and guilt now deny him the option.