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The Scarlet Letter Essay, Research Paper
Chapter 1: The Prison-Door: The first chapter in the Scarlet
Letter the setting is Boston in the 17th century in front of
the prison. The prison was plain colored and the
surroundings were very ordinary except for the rosebush that
is outside of the prison. All the Puritans dressed in drab,
dull colored clothing.
Chapter 2: The Market Place: Outside of the Prison the ugly
puritan women discuss the adultery of Hester Prynne. Hester
is the beautiful woman wearing a bright A on her bosom. She
carries her baby (Pearl) in her arms. While standing on the
scaffold she has flash backs of her old life, and the
childhood school days, and her mother and father, also the
Chapter 3: The Recognition: While standing upon the Scaffold
she recognizes a small disformed ?native? man in the
background. While no one in the rest of the town knows him
Hester is in shock that he is here. The man (Roger
Chillingworth) asks why this woman is standing on the
scaffold and what she did to get there. He learns of her
crime (adultery) and her punishment to stand on the scaffold
for three hours and to wear the letter A on her chest for
the rest of her life. Chillingworth also learns that she
will not name the father of her baby. His goal is to find
out who the father is. Rev. Dimmesdale try to pry the
fathers identity out of Hester. But he does not succeed.
After a long sermon she is led back to the prison.
Chapter 4: The Interview: Hester is in her prison cell and
is very nervous. Pearl is having convulsions. Then, Roger
Chillingworth comes to Hesters cell. He gives Pearl medicine
that makes her fall asleep. He then gives Hester a sedative
to calm her nerves. Hester and Chillingworth have
conversations over who is to blame for the affair. And we
learn that he is Hester?s secret husband who had sent her to
Boston before himself, she had taken him as dead at sea.
Hester promises not to tell anyone who he is even if it
ruins her soul.
Chapter 5: Hester at Her Needle: Now Hester is allowed to go
anywhere that she wants. But she chooses not to leave Boston
because this is where she committed her crime and this is
where she should have her punishment. So she decides to move
to a small cottage on the outskirts of town. She gains money
for herself and Pearl through her skill as a seamstress. The
townspeople like her clothing, and buy it for almost every
occasion except for weddings (they fear she will inhabit
their marriage with lies and deceit.) Even though her sewing
is very popular she is still a social outcast if the town.
She believes that her scarlet A allows her to sense sin and
immoral feelings in the other towns people.
Chapter 6: Pearl: Pearl is now 3 years old. Hester feels
that her name is so ironic because she came of great price
but is so wonderful. She is a beautiful young girl always
dressed in beautiful colors and dresses. Hester is reminded
of her own sin through Pearls love of mischief. The two are
very close. On walks with Hester, Pearl throws stones at the
other kids and yells at them. Instead of having imaginary
friends she only has imaginary enemies. Pearl is curious of
where she comes from, but says she does not have a Heavenly
Chapter 7: The Governor?s Hall: Hester hears a rumor that
the citizens of the village feel that Pearl should be taken
away from her. So when she takes the gloves that she made
for the governor she decides she will talk to him there
about how Pearl can not be taken from her. Pearls dressed in
a scarlet dress with gold thread (like the scarlet letter).
On the walk there Pearl is made fun of by Puritan children
and she yells at them and has a temper tantrum. Inside the
Governors mansion there is a picture of Hester in which the
scarlet letter and Pearl are distorted. It makes it seem as
if the letter A covers up most of Hesters large body. Pearl
screams because she wants a rose from the garden, but calms
down from curiosity when she hears men walking down the
Chapter 8: The Elf Child and the Minister: The men that
Pearl calmed down for turned out to be Governor Bellingham,
the Reverend John Wilson, Reverend Dimmesdale, and Roger
Chillingworth. The governor is shocked at Pearl?s ?scarlet
letter? like outfit. Rev. Wilson quizzes Pearl on the
catechism. Pearl acts ignorant about it and wont answer any
of the questions correctly. When the Reverend asks her who
made thee? she replies that she was plucked off of the bush
of wild roses that grew outside the prison door. The
Governor then decides to take Pearl off of Hester. Hester
pleads that Pearl in her happiness and a constant reminder
of her sin. Hesters asks Rev. Dimmesdale for help because he
is her minister and he knows her better than anyone.
Dimmesdale says that God has given to hear as both a
blessing and a reminder of sin, which allows the Governor to
let her keep her Pearl. As Hester is leaving the mansion
Mistress Hibbins(the governors sister) asks her if she wants
to go into the woods tonight and sign the ?black mans? book.
Hester refuses the invation saying that she has to look
after Pearl and that if Pearl would of gotten taken away
from her, than she would of.
Chapter 9: The Leech: Chillingworth is now well received by
the townspeople. Because he is a physician, and he has taken
care of ill Dimmesdale. Some Puritans think that he was
?dropped? into the town just as things were starting to fall
apart. Dimmesdale says that he wants no medical care, and is
perfectly ready to die, but yet he agrees to be put in the
hand of Chillingworths care. He now lives with Chillingworth
but they both have separate apartments. Suspicions about the
?Doctor? are being raised in the town, and there are rumors
of his past saying he practices ?the black art? with fire.
Chapter 10: The Leech and His Patient: Chillingworth becomes
obsessed with finding the father of Pearl in this chapter,
for revenge. Chillingworth trys to pry Dimmesdales heart and
soul, he thinks he is keeping something from him. Dimmesdale
says that he agrees with Chillingworth in the way that
Hester is better off with her sin publicly displayed than
she would of been if she would of keep it secret.
Chillingworth says that he can never cure Dimmesdale if he
doesn?t tell him everything. He blames his sickness on a
?sickness of the soul? and Dimmesdale rushes out of the
room. Later on Chillingworth sees Dimmesdale asleep in a
chair. He pulls of his vestment and stares at his chest.
What he sees excites him very very much!
Chapter 11: The Interior of a Heart: Now that Chillingworth
knows the secret if Dimmesdale and Hester, he begins to
torture the Minister. Dimmesdale doesn?t know that
Chillingworth has motives, but he still starts to fear him.
The sicker and weaker Dimmesdale grows, the more popular he
becomes. But this love from the parish makes him feel guilty
and almost brings him to a public confession that he is the
secret lover of Hester. Because of his guilt he whips
himself with a bloody whip and keeps frequent all-night
vigils during which his mind is plagued by frightening
visions. He dresses in his clerical clothes and leaves the
Chapter 12: The Ministers Vigil: Dimmesdale walks to the
scaffold where Hester stood wearing her scarlet A, and
holding her Pearl. Dimmesdales guilt gets to him and he
lets out a terrific scream. He thinks it will wake the
whole town up, but it doesn?t. But Hester and Pearl are
walking past and see him on the scaffold, they join him and
they link arms. Dimmesdale promises Pearl he will stand
there with them on ?the great judgment day?. There is a
great red A in the sky. They look to see where Pearl is
pointing and see Roger Chillingworth who smiles coming
towards the three people. Hester still wont identify the
real Chillingworth. The next morning during the sermon the
sexton returns the Ministers glove found on the scaffold. He
also asks about the great red letter A that appeared in the
night, the night before.
Chapter 13:Another View of Hester: Following her talks with
Dimmesdale Hester has noticed the changes in him. His nerve
is gone, and he is weak. She concludes ?a terrible machinery
had been brought to bear and was still operating on Mr.
Dimmesdale?s well being and repose.? Four years later,
Hesters position in the community has changed. She has been
given credit for living her life in shame. Her scarlet ?A?
now stands for ?able?. Hester has became a new person, she
is now a part of Puritan society, while Dimmesdales mental
balance has suffured. She vows to help him, even if that
involves speaking to Chillingworth.
Chapter 14: Hester and the Physician: Hester and Pearl are
taking a walk down on the peninsula. She sees Chillingworth
and sends Pearl down to play by the seashore. She is shocked
at the changes in Chillingworth. She notices that he is in
?the grip of the devil? she feels responsible for ?another
ruin?. She feels that her promise has caused Chillingworth
to do evil to Dimmesdale. Chillingworth admits he allows
evil to use him. He believes it was his ?fate? to become a
fiend. He releases Hester froom her vow of silence.
Chapter 15:Hester and Pearl: As Chillingworth leaves, Hester
recognizes how evil he has become and she hates him. While
Hester was talking to Chillingworth, Pearl has entertained
herself by playing with her image in a pool, made boats of
birch bark, and threw pebbles at beack-birds. Finally she
uses sea weed to make a ?A? which she places on her chest.
Pearl asks what the ?A? means. Hester almost even tells her,
b/c she has no one else she can confide in. She lies and
says that she wears it ?for the sake of the gold ribbon?
This is the first time she has lied about the scarlet
letter. Pearl does not believe her and continues to ask
until Hester threatens her to shut her in a dark closet.
Chapter 16: A Forest Walk: For a few days Hester has been
trying to intercept Dimmesdale at the shore, where he
frequently takes long walks. When rumor has it that he will
be returning from a trip, she goes with Pearl into the
forest, hoping to meet him on his walk home. Pearl suggests
the sunshine is hiding from Hester and the ?A?. Pearl asks
Hester about the ?Black Man?. Hester confesses, that she has
met that Black Man and the Scarlet Letter is his mark.
They hear footsteps on the path and Hester sends Pearl away,
but not before she asks if the man approching (Dimmesdale)
is the Black Man,and if he is covering his heart to cover
the blind mans mark. Dimmesdale looks as if he has no
purpose to live.
Chapter 17: The Pastor and His Parishioner: As Dimmesdale
walks in the wilderness returning from a visit with Apostle
Eliot, he hears Hester?s voice and is surprised she is
there. They talk about the past seven years. Dimmesdale
comfesses his mesery and unhappiness. While Hester tells him
how much people love him, that just makes him feel even more
guilty. He compares his silence to her public confession and
realizes how his hidden guilt is destroying him. Seeing how
much Chillingworth has tormented Dimmesdale, she chooses now
to tell him of her marriage to him…and the truth. This
torture has led to insanity and ?that eternal alienation
from the Good and True of which madness is perhaps the
earthly type.? Hester realizing she still loves Dimmesdale
begs for his forgiveness for her silence. His reaction
starts out with anger, blaming her for his years of torture.
And remembering when he first meet Chillingworth and how he
had questioned about Hester. They hug and the compassion
makes the 7 years of sorrow for both of them fall away.
Dimmesdale forgives her and asks Gods forgivness on them
both. Dimmesdale believes that Chillingworth is the worst
sinner of them all because he vioated in cold blood the
sancity of the human heart. They wish to leave the forest
and find a place with peace and harmony. This place can not
be in the Puritan community. Dimmesdale fears chillingworths
cause and is afraid to live with him now. Hesters plan is
for them both to go deep into the wilderness and live off
the land. But Dimmesdale does not have enought strength to
do that. He accepts leaving the Puritan colony, but only if
he doesnt go alone.
Chapter 18: A Flood of Sunshine: Dimmesdale takes courage
from Hesters strength and resolves to leave the Puritan
colony, but not ALONE. Hester takes off the scarlet letter
and lets her h air down, and sunshine bursts through.
Hester wants Dimmesdale to know Pearl, he is nervous but she
assures him that she will love him. Pearl comes closer to
them, and brings the sunlight with her.
Chapter 19: The Child at the Brook-Side:
Pearl approaches them with flowers in her hair, Hester and
Dimmesdale discuss how much she looks like Dimmesdale.
Dimmesdale confesses that he has often been afraid that
people resembled them and put two and two together. When
Pearl see the two of them together, she refuses to cross the
brook and come near, despite her mother’s encouragement. She
points to Hester’s dress and goes into a screaming fit of
anger. Hester realizes Pearl is upset because the missing
scarlet letter is not on,and Pearl has never seen her mother
with out it. Dimmesdale tells her to put the letter back on.
Hester tells Pearl to bring the letter to her.When Pearl
refuses to come, Hester retrieves it herself, pins it to her
dress, and ties back her hair. Pearl then rushes to her and
gives her kisses; however, she suspiciously looks at
Dimmesdale occupying her rightful place beside her mother.
Pearl questions Dimmesdale’s presence. When Hester says he
is there because he loves both of them, Pearl asks whether
he will walk hand-in-hand with them into town, revealing her
distrust of him. Hester informs Pearl that in the future the
three of them will live together openly. Pearl asks if
Dimmesdale will always keep his hand over his heart, but
Hester scolds the child for the question. She then forces
Pearl to come to her father, who gives her a kiss. Pearl
breaks free of her mother’s hold, runs to the brook, washes
off his kiss, and remains aloof while the two adults discuss
their plan of leaving Boston.
Chapter 20: The Minister in a Maze: On his way back home,
Dimmesdale finds himself completely changed. He no longer
walks feebly, and everything around him, especially his
church, appears brighter. When he passes his parishioners,
however, he is at a loss for words, for he finds that he
wants to say wicked things to them. He is afraid that
perhaps he has sold his soul to he devil. He then encounters
Mistress Hibbins, the witch, who refers to his secret
meeting in the forest, which Dimmesdale denies. She
laughs at him knowingly and tells him she will meet him in
the forest at midnight.When Dimmesdale enters his apartment,
everything there looks changed and unfamiliar. He realizes
that the things and people around him have not changed;
instead, the change is within himself. Just then,
Chillingworth appears and inquires about his trip and his
health. He suggests some medicine, which Dimmesdale turns
down. When Chillingworth departs, he tears up his
previously written Election Day sermon and stays up all
night writing a new one.
Chapter 21: The New England Holiday:This chapter starts out
on Election day. There is an air of festivity about, but the
people do not seem excited. Hester is dressed in her typical
clothing, as her and Pearl start toward town. Pearl, dressed
in bright clothing, is excited about the holiday and more
lively than usual. Even Hester is filled with joy, knowing
that she will be leaving Boston in a few days. When Pearl
spies the crowd of people, she inquires whether Dimmesdale
will be there and hold out his hand to them. Hester says
that he will be present, but that they must not greet him.
Pearl is mystified as to why he will recognize them at night
and in the forest and ignore them in daylight. She calls him
“a strange, sad man.” In the midst of the crowd in the
market place, Hester notices Chillingworth, who is talking
to the captain of the ship bound for Bristol. The captain,
departing from Chillingworth, comes to Hester and tells her
that Chillingworth has also booked passage to Bristol on his
ship. When Hester looks at Chillingworth from a distance, he
smiles knowingly at her.
Chapter 22: The Procession: As the minister walks past
Hester and Pearl, he does not even glance at them, that
hurts Hester. She, however, cannot keep her eyes off of him.
She immediately notices that he has significantly changed in
appearance. He no longer appears weak and walks with
confidence. She also notices that he does not hold his hand
over his heart. Pearl also notices the changes in Dimmesdale
and wonders if it is the same person whom they had met in
the forest. Mistress Hibbins joins Hester and tells her that
she knows of the secret meeting with Dimmesdale in the
forest. She predicts that the minister’s mask, obviously
implanted by the devil, will be removed, and the truth about
him will soon be revealed to the world. Pearl will then know
why he has held his hand over his heart. In the crowd,
Hester sees some of the people who had been there when she
was first made to stand on the scaffold. Pearl moves among
the crowd, keeping herself busy and spreading her joy. Pearl
is given a message from the captain of the ship for her
mother. She is to inform her that Chillingworth will lead
Dimmesdale to the ship, and that Hester and Pearl should
take off themselves without waiting for Dimmesdale. When
Hester hears the message, she feels depressed and senses
that her plan to escape with Dimmesdale will fail.
Chapter 23: The Revelation of the Scarlet Letter:After
Dimmesdale’s emotional sermon, the procession moves towards
the town hall. The people are amazed by Dimmesdale’s words,
and judge him as more honorable than ever. As he walks past
in the procession, the spectators cheer him triumphantly and
think he is the best preacher of all of New England.
There has been a significant change in Dimmesdale’s
appearance since the earlier procession. Ironically, after
his triumphant sermon he no longer walks healthy, but is
once again feeble and tottering. There is also a strange
expression upon his face. As he nears the
scaffold,Dimmesdale leaves the procession and seeks Hester’s
help in climbing up the steps with Pearl. Chillingworth
realizes the only place Dimmesdale is truly free from him is
on the scaffold. Dimmesdale, however, refuses to be
victimized by Cillingworth any longer. He is determined to
make a public confession of his sin before he dies.
Dimmesdale climbs the scaffold with Hester and Pearl.
Standing in full public gaze, he addresses the people and
confesses his guilt. He declares that, like Hester, he too
wears the mark of sin. Before collapsing, Dimmesdale bears
his chest for all to see. He then forgives Chillingworth and
asks Pearl to kiss him. For the first time, Pearl truly
reveals her love for Dimmesdale. As her tears fall for the
first time in the novel. Her questions have been answered,
her humanity has been established, and she will no longer be
the impish child she has been throughout the book.Dimmesdale
bids a final farewell to Hester, for he doubts he can be
united with her for eternity because of his sinful nature.
The minister then dies, leaving the people with a sense of
Chapter 24: Conclusion:When Dimmesdale’s showed his breast
people all saw diffrent things. Some believed that
there was really a scarlet letter there, a mark of his
sinfulness. Some said the devil put it there;
others believed that Dimmesdale had carved it there himself
as self-inflicted punishment; others felt that Chillingworth
had caused it. Others, especially those representative of
the Church and the State, believed that there was no such
sign on his heart and that he had no personal sin; they
interpreted Dimmesdale’s ascending the scaffold with Hester
and Pearl as a symbolic lesson in the sinfulness of all men.
Hester and Pearl remain in Boston until Chillingworth’s
death, which occurred within a year. Driven by his revenge,
after Dimmesdale’s death, he no longer had a reason for
existing. Pearl inherits a large sum of money and property
from him, his only noble act in the book. Later, mother and
daughter disappear, and the people often hear rumors about
where they really are. Hawthorne indicates that have gone to
Europe. Then one day Hester returns to her old cottage
without Pearl. Once again, different stories are circulated.
It is assumed that Pearl has married well, has a child of
her own, and is constantly in touch with her mother. She,
therefore, becomes the only bright spot in a gloomy novel.
Hester returns to Boston to end her days in the place of her
love, sin, suffering. No one expects her to wear the scarlet
letter, but she places it on her chest and constantly wears
it. When she dies, she is placed near Dimmesdale’s grave
with one tombstone marking both their graves. It is
marked with a scarlet letter “A”. That also says ?On a
field, sable, the letter A, gules.?
I am a 15 yr. old girl from PA
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