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STUDYWORLD STUDYNOTES

The Scarlet Letter


Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters 21-24


Summary:

The celebration of the Puritan Holiday begins with a procession. The people are gathered in the square to watch and to listen to Dimmesdale's sermon. Hester, in the meantime, goes to talk to the captain and make arrangements for the voyage. She is surprised to hear from him that there will be another passenger on board, Roger Chillingworth.

She then goes to listen to Dimmesdale's sermon and sees Chillingworth looking at her and smirking. The people are inspired and moved by the Reverend's speech and seem to feel that it is the best sermon that they have ever heard.

On the way to the banquet, the evening festivities of the celebration, Dimmesdale sees Hester and Pearl. He beckons to them to join him and to everyone's surprise he mounts the scaffold with them. He tells Hester that he cannot leave with her as he is dying and that he must cleanse his soul and acknowledge his guilt. He then turns to the crowd and bears his chest, revealing the sign of sin. He then falls down upon the scaffold. The crowd is amazed and Chillingworth cries out, "Thou hast escaped me!"

Dimmesdale's final words are to Pearl when he asks her if she will kiss him now and to God, as he asks for forgiveness for Chillingworth. He ends with the words, “Praise be His name! His will be done! Farewell!”

The conclusion of the novel tries to clarify what people saw when the minister stood on the scaffold. It also tells that Hester and Pearl remain in Boston until Chillingworth dies and then leave the colony.

After many yeas pass, Hester returns to Salem to spend her final days in the place where her love is buried. She dons the Scarlet letter unto her chest of her own free will, but never rejoins the Puritan Church. Pearl, who by now is married and has a child of her own, stays constantly in touch with her mother and remains the bright spot in Hester's life. When Hester dies, she is buried near Dimmesdale's grave and shares one headstone. It is marked with a scarlet letter "A".

 

Review:

Hawthorne, through his narrator, adds a final chapter, in which he speculates on the fate of the other characters. He proposes the following: Roger Chillingsworth, hatefully hunched over and shriveled, died within the year; but in sympathy he left his considerable estate to Pearl. Having come into such wealth, both Pearl and Hester sailed abroad. Hester eventually returned to Boston alone to occupy her old cottage, frequently receiving letters and gifts from her daughter. She became a trusted confidante to scores of local women, but never removed the scarlet letter from her breast. Her gravestone - it is suggested - can still be seen: a plain black headstone with no name engraved; only a blazing scarlet "A".

 

  • Biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • About the Novel
  • Quick/Fast Review

  • Comprehensive Summary and Review of The Custom House

  • Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters 1-4

  • Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters 5-8

  • Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters 9-12

  • Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters 13-16

  • Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters 17-20

  • Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters 21-24

  • Character List

  • Studyworld Essay Search on The Scarlet Letter

     

     

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