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"And so it is!" said the child [Pearl]. "And, mother, he has his hand over his heart! Is it because, when the minister wrote his name in the book, the Black Man set his mark in that place? But why does he not wear it outside his bosom, as thou dost, mother?" (16.32)
As bad as it is to live your life as a hypocrite, it's even worse when your kids figure it out. This is the "Do as I say, not as I do" school of parenting, and it works just about as well as it always does. (Not very.)
"No, Hester, no!" replied the clergyman. "There is no substance in it! It is cold and dead, and can do nothing for me! Of penance I have had enough! Of penitence there has been none!" (17.18)
Right, because you can't be penitent if your entire community thinks you can do no wrong. Problem #193 with hypocrisy: you can't even expiate your sin.
"Else, I should long ago have thrown off these garments of mock holiness, and have shown myself to mankind as they will see me at the judgment-seat. Happy are you, Hester, that wear the scarlet letter openly upon your bosom! Mine burns in secret! Thou little knowest what a relief it is, after the torment of a seven years' cheat, to look into an eye that recognizes me for what I am!" (17.18)
We're trying to feel sorry for Dimmesdale; really, we are. But here, he's basically saying, "Oh, Hester, you're so lucky that you get to be ostracized by your entire community. Look at poor me, having to keep it a secret and live a blameless, honored life." We're impressed that Hester manages not to throw her sewing basket at his head.