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A chapter summary of the scarlet letter a novel by nathaniel hawthorne

The first settlers of the area are now long gone, but their lives still impact the community. The narrator is related to an early settler who was a judge and a ruler in the church known for his severity towards women.

The narrator meets other Custom House officers, also members of the Whig party. The narrator provides a character sketch of each officer. He finds an old package in the office of the Custom House. A scroll explains that the letter was worn by Hester Prynne.

The narrator begins to retell the story of Hester and the scarlet letter. Chapter 1- The Prison Door One of the first buildings constructed by the settlers of Boston was the prison.

Despite being cleared of all brush, a wild rosebush grows at the threshold of the prison door. It is thought the rosebush symbolizes morality and can relieve human frailty and sorrow.

Chapter 2- The Market Place One summer morning 200 years ago, every person in town is paying close attention to the prison door because a local woman is being held within the prison. The women are particularly interested in the fate of Hester Prynne. The prison door opens and Hester is led out.

She is holding an infant. She is then escorted to a scaffold where she must stand on a platform as a part of her punishment. Everyone in the town watches her, including her father. Hester is ashamed as she looks out at the sea of faces. The man asks who Hester is and what she has done.

The man learns Hester committed adultery and will not name the father of her baby. She is being punished in the hopes she will reveal the name of her lover. Both Reverend Dimmesdale and Reverend Wilson try to get the information from Hester, but she refuses.

Chapter 4- The Interview After being returned to the prison, Hester is being watched by the guards so that she does not harm herself or her child. Hester becomes emotional and upset, alarming the guards further.

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Another man, Roger Chillingworth, offers to calm Hester. He is given time alone with Hester because he claims to be a physician. He gives Hester and the baby calming draughts. He is not angry; he pities her. He knew she never loved him, but he married her anyway. Roger says they have both been wronged and asks the name of the man who is responsible. He says he will get revenge for both of them.

Hester refuses to name her lover. Roger makes her promise never to reveal his identity to anyone in town. Her burden and shame grows every day because she is singled out as a sinner in the Puritan community.

The Scarlet Letter Summary

However, she is free to return to Europe, but she chooses to remain in the community. Hester and her daughter move into a thatched cottage on the outskirts of town. Hester is without friends, but her needlework is in demand for christening gowns, and fancy dresses.

  1. Dimmesdale in the distance, little Pearl starts asking questions about the clergyman, believing that he is the Black Man she has heard about from the other women in the city. However, the Gothic literature has another aspect.
  2. She begs him to forgive both of them and says his hatred has turned him into a fiend. Before he leaves, they devise a plan to leave for Europe in 3 days with Hester and Pearl on a ship.
  3. She is the true worshiper of devil, however, her religious deviation and evil are nothing in comparison with that of Roger Chillingworth, who commits his own life to only one goal- to make Mr. By accepting to wear the scarlet letter and embroidering it by herself, Hester shows that she is willing to obey the imposed social rules, but not allowing them to control her life.
  4. However, it seems that the nature approves their love. They tell Hester they are concerned that she is not a proper role model for her daughter.

Hester dresses very plainly, but dresses her daughter in the finest clothes. Hester is not welcomed at the church and is tormented by the local children.

  • Hester seems hardy on the scaffold, standing proudly and taking the hatred and criticism of her fellow citizens without shedding a tear, but as soon as she goes back to her prison cell, she breaks and starts crying;
  • Not paying much attention to the supernatural phenomenon, Hester is worried with the Arthur's state and decides to intervene, asking Roger Chillingworth to stop the torture of the poor clergyman, but Roger refuses.

She is isolated from everyone in the community and is not welcome to attend church services. Chapter 6- Pearl Hester decides to name her daughter Pearl because she paid a great price for her treasured daughter. Pearl is a happy and playful child, but she sometimes has fits of emotion. Hester is confused by these episodes. She often experiences fits of rage when around other children. Her only real playmate is Hester, so she creates imaginary playmates.

Despite being completely innocent, Pearl is punished in the same severe manner as her mother. She brings Pearl with her because she has heard that the elders may want to take Pearl away from her.

  • However, Arthur Dimmesdale advocates the girl's stay, assuring the officials that it is best for the girl to be with her mother, reminding her of the sin, as well as providing the consolation;
  • Readers learn that Roger died the same year as Arthur, probably because he dedicated his life to revenge, making his life worthless with the death of his victim;
  • Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Hester and Pearl.

She wants them to see that Pearl is a happy and healthy child. She begins to cry because she wants a red rose, and Hester tries to calm her. Hester does not want the Governor to think Pearl is possessed by evil spirits. Pearl starts screaming, but stops once she sees the Governor. Wilson, Roger Chillingworth, and Reverend Dimmesdale. They tell Hester they are concerned that she is not a proper role model for her daughter.

They believe Pearl may be better off being raised by another family. Wilson asks Pearl who made her, and Pearl replies she had been plucked from the rose bush that grows by the prison door.

The men are horrified. Hester begs to keep her child and asks her former minister, Dimmesdale, to help. He convinces the other men to allow Hester to keep Pearl, but Dimmesdale will teach catechism to Pearl. He also becomes active in religious life. He becomes close to Dimmesdale and the two men move in together. Chillingworth conducts experiments in his laboratory, which concerns the community. Some believe he is involved in the black arts.

He trusts Chillingworth is his friend. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Hester and Pearl. After the Prynnes walk away, the men discuss Hester and the belief evil can manifest itself as a sickness. Chillingworth decides to pursue this conversation in the future.

Chapter 11- The Interior of a Heart The relationship between Chillingworth and Dimmesdale changes after their last conversation. Chillingworth now knows how to focus his revenge.

Dimmesdale senses something evil is watching over him, but he does not suspect it is his trusted confidante. He shrieks, but no one takes notice. Hester and Pearl encounter Dimmesdale, and he asks them to stand on the platform with him.

Pearl asks him to stand with them on the platform tomorrow at noon.

  1. Once they notice Mr. Despite being cleared of all brush, a wild rosebush grows at the threshold of the prison door.
  2. Dimmesdale's sufferings deepens and turns into unbearable agony.
  3. Dimmesdale that they will go in four days.
  4. Hester worries that they may never escape.

He says he will stand with them on Judgment Day. Chillingworth is watching and offers to walk Dimmesdale home. She also becomes a sought after seamstress by the privileged in the community and is known for her generosity to the poor.

Because of her isolation, Hester is free to her own thoughts. This causes her to sometimes doubt her decision to raise Pearl rather than send her to heaven. She also contemplates suicide sometimes. She recognizes that Dimmesdale is tortured by his guilt. She decides to meet with Chillingworth to talk to him about ending his revenge scheme. She notices his appearance has changed; he now has a sinister appearance. She accuses him of causing Dimmesdale to suffer a daily living death.

Hester tells him she must reveal his identity before he destroys Dimmesdale. She begs him to forgive both of them and says his hatred has turned him into a fiend. Chillingworth refuses to stop seeking revenge. Chapter 15- Hester and Pearl Hester declares her hatred for Chillingworth and regrets marrying him. Hester is disturbed by this, but realizes that Pearl is not trying to hurt her. She asks Hester why she wears the scarlet letter and why the minister keeps his hand over his heart. Hester evades the questions, but Pearl brings them back up the next day.

Hester threatens to punish her. She knows that he often walks by himself in the woods, and plans to meet him when he is by himself. Though Pearl is bathed in sunlight, it leaves as soon as Hester approaches.

Pearl asks Hester if she has ever met the evil spirit in the woods. Hester tells her she has, and the evil spirit gave her the scarlet letter. Hester meets Dimmesdale in the woods.

Chapter 17- The Pastor and His Parishioner Dimmesdale tells Hester she is lucky she can openly address her sin by wearing the scarlet letter. He is being tortured by his sin. Hester tells Dimmesdale that Chillingworth is his enemy and her former husband.

He forgives Hester for keeping the secret for 7 years. Hester advises Dimmesdale to return to Europe, but he refuses to leave.