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VOLLEYING 2:
STUDENT WORK (6): "A DEADLY BATTLE"

Student I stayed on the margins, literally sitting on the back edge of whatever seating configuration I had, sometimes coming late as if to rationalize where he "had" to sit.  I felt him distracted at times -- he didn't do all the surveys, for instance -- and once he did mention family problems.  When "on," though, he seemed a very eager learner.  G was very quiet and lacked confidence in the beginning but went on to declare an English major, because, I think, of the discussion board experience in this class.  She seemed the type of person who needed more time to think out her ideas and thus she shied away from the bang-bang in-class verbal experience.  But I sense that she found the discussion board a place where she could take her time and work out ideas informally and thus that it provided an outlet for her sincere engagement with the texts.  I sensed that she really liked reading and thinking about texts and that the discussion board helped her enjoy and grow in these areas, though she always had a tentative way about her.  There was a "shadowy" quality about both of these students from the middle range of students in the class, and I was not sure what their interaction might turn out to be.

Serve: Student I -- "A Deadly Battle"

Through out the novel we are given more and more facts about the relationship between "Old" roger chillingworth and mr. dimmesdale.  from the start, we know that chillingworth is a fake, however dimmesdale is not privied to this knowledge until it is too late.  i think that chillingworth had an idea about dimmesdale since he watched the events that took place at the governors house, and thus his passion to confirm his beliefs leads him on a satanical tirade of evil and malicious actions.  He dives into dimmesdale's mind and twists and turns... one second he acts the part of dimmesdale's closest friend... the next second he attempts to make dimmesdale confess his sin by playing with his mind.  both men sin, but what i question is who suffers more through this whole situation.  _______ brings up an interesting point in her post about what hawthorne is getting at by how people deal with sin.  i think in this situation both characters hide their sins and while they hide them, they pay the ultimate price.  I could keep on going... but i feel like i'd start to answer myself(if i haven't already)... so i hope i've left you with something to respond to

Return: Student G

You definetly bring up an interesting point that I think there is a lot to discuss.  I trying to figure out how to put into words my theory on it all.  I definetly agree with ______ that Dimmesdale's sin is self-imposed. Part of me wants to say that Dimmesdale suffers the most.  I feel that he is suffering both from his own pursonal, intentional torture, but he is also suffering under the hands of Chillingworth.  I think one way--maybe a far off way--is to see how each character puts social constraits on themselves--bear with me.  I think that Dimmesdale, although he has sinned, is a Puritan at heart.  He feels he has truly sinned first and foremost against God, then against Hester, and then finally against his fellows peers. Chillingworth however puts himself under no social constraits--he dosen't not see he actions as sins--he does not feel he has to answer to anyone--(he is even seen as becomeing more like evil in his appearence) I feel that beause Dimmesdale holds himself below something--feels that he not only has sinned against himself, but against others--suffers more.  Chillingworth doesn't even feel he has done wrong.  I feel like he is a Leech in more way than just the doctor that bleeds people--he is a leech upon Dimmesdale, feeding off his suffering.  But once Dimmesdale has confessesed his sin--he dies.  I feel like Chillingsworth doesn't die immediatly because Dimmesdale is like his drug--it takes some time for him Dimmesdale to get out of Chillingworth's blood--and once he is fullign gone--Chillingsworth dies-----ok, I'm definetly off subject here, but this is sorta how I got to my theory of it all.  So--let me try and get back to your question adn my answer--So i disagree with you that Chillingworth has hidden his sin--becuase i don't believe he believes that he has sinned--because I think he would have to recognize it in some way like Dimmesdale but he dosen't do that....and not that I porbably have completly confused you---I'm gonna save the rest for another 'volley.'

Fielding the Return: Student I

i have a bunch of thoughts in response to your post.  first and foremost though, i think that chillingworth absolutely knows that he is sinning.  he i think he realizes that he is intentionally bringing down dimmesdale and fucking with his head and he loves every second of it.  i think that every time he sees the results of his probes, that just fueles him to go further and further.  i could feel this through much of the book... and then when hester and chillingworth speak before she tell dimmesdale about chillingworth, he confesses exactly what he is.  "... Never did mortal suffer what this man has suffered. And all, all, in the fight of his worst enemy!  he has been conscious of me.  He has felt an influence dwelling always upon him like a curse.  He knew, by some spiritual sense, -for the creator never made another being so sensitive at this, -he knew that no friendly hand was pulling at his heartstrings, and that an eye was looking curiously into him, which sought only evil, and found it.  But he knew not that the eye and hand were mine! ... Yea indead! -he did not err! -there was a fiend at his elbow!  A mortal man, with once a human heart, has become a fiend for his especial tomrment!"  I don't think he could have made it more clear that he turned evil and was doing the devils work.  To me, it seemed that the only reason that dimmesdale suffered as he did was because he was such a devout puritain.  he believed so strongly in the rules and regulations of society and it tortured him to know that he had broken such a holy rule.  by keeping this sin to himself he only suffered more.  I thought that chillingworth suffered more though.  I thought that his sin was constant and that by being aware of it all the time, he was so much worse for it.  dimmesdale wanted to make up for his sin, but chillingworth was only fueled by each successful probe and pushed to do more wrong.  his sin was dependent on dimmesdale's suffering and by dimmesdale overcoming him, chillingworth suffered the ultimate price in being unable to continue living without his ability to continue to do the devil's work.  i just felt that chillingworth suffered so much in his attempts to gain revenge and suffered even more when his revenge was defeated by dimmesdale's confession and hester's overcoming of the burn of the scarlet letter.  let me know what you think

Volley1: Student G

I definetly agree with your point you make at the end of your post.  That Chillingworths sin was constant, and i think I can add, more intense as he continued to pursue Dimmesdale, that he did suffer.  I guess the way I see things is that you can only suffer if you acknowledge that you are beholding to a higher power. Like you said--Chillingworth is pure evil....what power does he behold himself to?  And in response to the first part of your post, you definety make some good points about how Chilingworth knows he is sinning--and I definetly am rethinking what I originally said since you put it in this light.  I guess part of me needs to make an anology about evil and good to get across what I think about Chillingworth.  I think a pure good person is one who does good deeds, without thinking about it--what I mean is that they're not doing things because they think they should, but they are doing things because good is second nature to them.  Similarily--with a pure evil person does evil things without thinking twice, they are his second nature.  SO I feel that there is a distintion to be made with Chillingworth--he is evil, and he does purposly leech onto Dimmesdale--but I guess I don't feel like he rocognizes his sin and any way that lets him to think twice about what he is doing--about the suffering he is causeing Dimmesdale.  So I can't see why Chillingworth suffers more when he dosen't recognize that its a bad thing--that what he is doing to DImmesdale is not just generally a bad thing--but also morally wrong.  I guess I'm just confused on what you mean by suffering.  Becuase I do agree with you that he is ultimately defeated by Dimmesdale when he confesses, and I guess then I agree that he suffers in that he did not accomplish his goal.  So in this light--I do think you're right that Dimmesdale, not having been defeated, did not suffer--that his moral character was able to defeat his sin in the end.  But I feel, emotional and intellectually, Dimmesdale suffered more becuase he forced himself to suffer.  Hope that gives some thought for the next post

Volley2: Student I

I'm sorry it took me so long to respond... but i still have some stuff to offer i think to clear up what i was saying.  I feel like chillingworth does suffer a lot.  One of the reasons i think he suffers so much is because he had to take everything that he knew about himself, and throw it away.  The person he was, was killed the minute that he saw hester standing in shame.  he tossed out his name and along with that i think that all the goodness and genuine happiness in him quickly left him.  I went back to the book for a little proof and found something that i think says this pretty well.  "... he chose to withdraw his name from the roll of mankind, and, as regarded his former ties and interests, to canish out of life as completely as if he indeed lay at the bottom of the ocean, wither rumor had long ago consigned him.  This purpose once effected, new interest would immediately spring up, and likewise a new purpose; dark, it is true..."
Now, i'm not sure if i really think he was such a great guy in the first place... considering that he left his wife and just took off with no contact for a long time... but i think that he just became a really horrible person while living in this community... and that even though he is on a mission to destroy the father of pearl, dimmesdale, he does not wish that he was in this situation.  Also, i'm not gonna dive into the text to find the quote, but i know that we are told about how chillingworth really ages over the seven year period... and that even though he was not a model when he arrived on the scene, that he really looked old and decprepid by the end of his life.  to me, this big difference in appearence signals that he was burning up inside, that he was extremely unhappy and that he was suffering.  I don't know if you have ever had any personal experience with this, but i have seen a couple of people after divorce just totally go to shit... hair loss, dark hair goes to white hair, i've seen people gain a lot of weight and become inactive... and i know one guy that once he had a new girlfriend, his life totally changed again.  that he started doing stuff that he had never done, he lost a lot of weight, and just interactions with him in general were a lot more pleasant.  I guess that is what leads me to believe that a exterior can be a signal of what is going on inside.  I also was thinking about this and came up with a new question for you... do you think that hester being around was a positive or negative impact for both dimmesdale and chillingworth?


My reflection:

I really like this interchange.  I think both show some strength in taking I's initial question and pursuing it singlemindedly through the five steps.  Who suffers more, I serves, Dimmesdale or Chillingworth?  G opts for Dimmesdale in her return, and the thing she does well here (as well as in her other post in the interchange) is to talk out her reasons in admirable detail.  There is a kind of plentitude to her response that we don't often see in such posts.  G doesn't have the lockjaw that attacks many posters on the discussion board.  There is a fullness to her response that is engaging.  She works out a thoughtful comparison and contrast between Dimmesdale and Chillingworth, then tops off her post with a meaningful distinction regarding awareness of sin that relates to the suffering issue.  It's an effective return.  Student I's fielding of G's return is just as effective and shows his strength (also visible in his volley) in argument -- going to the text.  Student I quotes in full a long passage that he feels makes his case.  Go to the text!  Go to the text!  How few students do that! 

The pattern is repeated in volley1 and volley2.  G bases her position on a developed argument with at least one new point, and Student I returns to the text, finding and quoting one authoritative passage for his argument and implying the presence of another equally strong. The 5-step interchange has been a good stretch, good exercise.  Both sides have flexed.  And Student I, signalling an end, re-directs the discussion to another but related point as if the discussion would continue.   And one feels that it could with value, for both students show themselves serious, focused discussants.