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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

?scholar man?.

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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