"the intervening space of a single day had operated on his consciousness like the lapse of years"

Dimmesdale’s perceptions echo Washington Irving’s 1819 short story, ‘Rip Van Winkle.’ In this famous tale, the eponymous protagonist helps a man dressed in old-fashioned attire carry a keg up a mountain to a mysterious hollow where silent, bearded men play ninepins. Having helped himself to their liquor, Rip falls asleep and when he awakes, finds his gun rusted and his beard a foot long. When he retraces his steps back to his village, he finds that it is populated by people unknown to him. In what he took for the events of a day, many years have passed and the Revolutionary War has changed the shape of his home forever.