The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 1 Vocabulary: Invariably, sepulchres, burdock. Questions: 1) Why is it that Nathaniel Hawthorne includes Anne Hutchinson in this chapter? 2) What could the roses symbolize in front of the prison door? 3) Why is the crowd’s attention focused on the door? Predictions: There may be a hanging that day, hence why there is a “throng” of people in front of the prison. It may be a man or a woman. The rose is a symbol for courage and passion, this may be a main theme in this book. Summary: A large crowd of people are standing in front of a prison door.
This door is old, as described by the “weather stains and other indications of age which gave a yet darker aspect to its beetle-browed and gloomy front. “Also, the iron studs on the prison are rusting. Overall there is an impression of decay. Outside the prison there is a rosebush that is in full bloom. The narrator says that it is possible that “this rosebush … had sprung up under the footsteps of the sainted Ann Hutchinson, as she entered the prison door. ” He then plucks one of the roses and offers it to the reader as a “moral blossom” for later on in the story.
Comments: So far in the story, the setting has been set as a dark place, which leads me to believe there may be a sad ending. The rosebush could also symbolize a happy ending too. It seems that Hawthorne wants us to find the beauty in the darkest of situations. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 2 Vocabulary: physiognomies, betokened, Antinomian, heterodox, farthingale, malefactresses, sumptuary, ignominy, preternaturally, remonstrance Questions: 1) Why has Hester embroidered such an elaborate “Scarlet Letter? ” 2) What crime has Hester committed? ) Is her lover also in the jail awaiting his/her own punishment? Predictions: Hester may be being led off to be punished and subsequently hanged. Her daughter may become a major component to the future of Hester’s life. The scholar that she married may come into the story angry at her for being an adulterer, maybe even want to kill her and her lover. Summary: Several women begin to discuss Hester Prynne, and they soon vow that Hester would not have received such a light sentence for her crime if they had been the judges. One woman, the ugliest of the group, goes so far as to vouch for the death of Hester.
Hester comes out from the prison with elegance in her movements. She clutches daughter, Pearl. She has sown an intricate scarlet A on her dress. Several of the women are outraged when they that she has chosen to display the letter proudly, and they want to rip it off. Hester is led through the crowd to the scaffold. Hawthorne compares her beauty while on the scaffold to an image of Madonna and Child. The ordeal is difficult for Hester. She tries to make the images in front of her vanish by thinking about her past. Hester imagines she’s back in her house in England with her dad at the door.
She then thinks of a slightly deformed scholar that is her husband. Hester looks out over the crowd and realizes for the first time that her life condemns her to be alone. She looks at her daughter and then fingers the scarlet letter that will be a part of her now. At the thought of what is to come, she squeezes Pearl so hard that the she cries in pain. Comments: Hester is almost hiding her shame behind a front of being proud of her mark. It is obvious that the people hate her for what she has done, and for who she is, but we do not know who is the actual “bad” guy. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 3
Vocabulary: abate, peradventure, behooves, sagacity, hearken Questions: 1) Was the man with the Indian Hester’s scholarly husband? 2) Who is the father of Pearl, could he possibly be part of the crowd? 3) Why won’t Hester name Pearl’s father? Predictions: The man with the Indian may turn out to be someone from Hester’s life, and may be willing to do something in revenge for a wrong done against him. Hester doesn’t seem to be that affected by the label she has been put on by the town, though surely it will lead to some negative consequences in her future. Summary: On the edge of the crowd, Hester notices an Indian accompanied by a white man.
She recognizes the white man as her husband Roger Chillingworth, who sent her to America and stayed in Amsterdam. Hester fearfully clutches Pearl harder, which again causes Pearl to cry out in pain again. Chillingworth asks a bystander who Hester is and what her crime was. The man tells him of her past, saying that she was sent to Boston to wait for her husband, but she ended up with a child instead. Chillingworth remarks that the man who was her partner in the crime of adultery will eventually become known. The Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale is exhorted to make Hester tell the gathered crowd who the father is.
She refuses and instead tells him that she will bear both his shame and her own. Dimmesdale cries out, “She will not speak! ” and places his hand over his heart. The Reverend Mr. Wilson steps forward and delivers a sermon against sin, after which Hester returns to the prison. Comments: Roger is visibly outraged by the behavior of Hester. Hester knows that Roger is there and is scared of the repercussions of his finding out of her wrongdoings. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 4 Vocabulary: prithee, verily, peremptory, Lethe, Nepenthe, requital Questions: 1) Why is Hester acting so hysterically? ) Why has Roger pretended to be the physician and visit Hester? 3) Why is Roger so intent on finding out who pearl’s father is? Predictions: Hester may be willing to keep the secret with her, but eventually it may come out. There may be huge consequences of withholding the information, which would make his punishment worse than that of Hester’s. Summary: After Hester returns to her prison cell, she is agitated by the day’s events. Pearl is also upset and starts crying. The jailer allows a physician to enter and try to calm them down. Chillingworth, pretending to be a physician, enters and mixes a potion for Pearl, who soon falls asleep.
He also makes a drink for Hester, who is afraid that he is trying to kill her. Nevertheless, she drinks his potion and sits down on the bed. Chillingworth tells her that he forgives her, and he accepts the blame for having married her. She says, “thou knowest that I was frank with thee. I felt no love, nor feigned any. ” He asks Hester who the father of Pearl is, but she refuses to tell him. Chillingworth then laughs and says, “He bears no letter of infamy wrought into his garment, as thou dost; but I shall read it on his heart. “He then makes Hester swear to never reveal that he is her husband.
She becomes afraid of Chillingworth’s purpose, and she asks whether he has forced her into a bond that will ruin her soul. He smiles and tells her, “Not thy soul … No, not thine! ” Comments: Hester’s shame has been increased due to seeing her husband, so she becomes agitated and expresses her anger and fear of what is to come in her cell. Roger says it is his fault for sending her to America, but it seems to be that he resents the man that impregnated his wife. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 5 Vocabulary: vivify, tinge, uncongenial, emolument, contumaciously Questions: 1) Why has Hester not left the colony? ) How is Hester’s sowing ability important to her livelihood? 4) Why do the poor, the women, the clergy, and the children treat her so scantily? Prediction: Hester may become a scapegoat for the rest of the community for their sins and actions. Summary: Hester is released from prison and finds a cottage in the woods near the outskirts of the city, where she begins to set up her new life. She does escape to a new life without shame in some other city. The narrator remarks that people often are drawn irresistibly to live near the place where a “great and marked event” has occurred.
He goes on to say that even if that is not the reason, Hester may have been inclined to remain in Boston because her secret lover still lived there. Hester’s skill at needlework, earlier shown in the way that she intricately sewed the scarlet letter, allows her to maintain a stable lifestyle. Still, her reputation as an outcast and loner causes a negative aura to be cast around her. Young children often creep up to her house to spy on her while she worked. In spite of her excellent needlework, she is never called upon to make a bridal gown due to her reputation as an adulterer.
Hester spends time working on projects which bring income, and she devotes the remainder of her working time to creating garments for the poor. She lives simply with the sole exception being that she creates dresses of fine fabrics for Pearl. Hester’s social life is basically eliminated as a result of her scarlet letter. Hester also begins to hate children, who unconsciously realize there is something different about her and thus start to follow her with “shrill cries” through the city streets. One of the things which Hester starts o notice is that every once in a while she receives a sympathetic glance and feels like she has a companion in her sin. As the narrator puts it, “it gave her a sympathetic knowledge of the hidden sin in other hearts. ” This point is interesting in that many of the people now accused of hypocrisy regarding the scarlet letter include those such as “a venerable minister or magistrate,” people who are viewed as models of “piety and justice” but still carry secret sins. Comments: There seems to be a tone of detachment coming from Hester, though she chooses to stay in the town, she is not socially accepted.
People know that they have sinned themselves, but are still curious to see a person that stands somewhat proudly with their mark of shame on their chest. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 6 Vocabulary: imbued, mutability, epoch, caprice, smote, dearth, enmity Questions: 1) Why did Hester name her child Pearl? 2) Why do the townspeople think so negatively of Pearl, though she is a child? Prediction: Pearl’s life may become a hard one, having to live with the shame and resentment that her mother brought upon her. Pearl seems to have become everything that Hester did not want for her child.
Summary: Hester chose the name “Pearl” to represent something of great value. Hester is afraid that nothing good can come from her sin, however, and thus she fears that Pearl will in some way be retribution for her sinful passion. Hester spends hours clothing Pearl in the richest garments she can find, even though it seems that Pearl would appear just as beautiful in any garment. Hester’s passion exists in the child’s demeanor in the form of “flightiness of temper … and even some of the very cloud-shapes of gloom and despondency that had brooded in her heart. Pearl turns out to be unmanageable as a child, forcing Hester to let her do what she wants. Pearl has a particular mood where nothing Hester does can persuade the child to change her stance, so eventually Hester is “ultimately compelled to stand aside, and permit the child to be swayed by her own impulses. ” Pearl is compared to a witch in both the way she interacts with other children and the way she plays. Having been scorned by the other Puritan families all her young life, Pearl is positively wrathful when other children approach her, going so far as to throw stones and scream at them.
With toys, Pearl always plays games in which she destroys everything. The first thing Pearl saw in her infancy was the scarlet letter. As a baby she even reached up and touched the letter. Pearl later played a game where she threw flowers at her mother and jumped around in glee every time she hit the scarlet letter. Pearl eventually asks who sent her to Hester, to which Hester replies that the Heavenly Father sent her. Pearl responds with, “He did not send me … I have no Heavenly Father! ” Pearl then presses Hester to tell her who her father is, saying, “Tell me! Tell me!
It is thou who must tell me! ” Hester can’t answer her question and stays silent, thinking about the fact that some of the townsfolk think she is the child of a demon. Comments: Pearl is becoming a self fulfilling prophecy of the people by becoming more outwardly aggressive and her fascination with the scarlet letter. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 7 Vocabulary: intrinsic, wan, extant, cabalistic, caper, forsooth, embowed, folio, burnished, panoply, exigences, physiognomy, annals Questions: 1) Why does Hester visit the governor? 2) How are the scarlet letter and Pearl the same?
Predictions: Pearl may be taken from Hester, leading us to believe that this story will soon become a quest for Hester to reunite with Pearl. This may also be the start of the town’s reluctance to have such a shameful mark upon them remain blemished. Summary: Hester takes Pearl with her to the Governor’s Hall in order to deliver some gloves she has sown. Hester’s main reason for going is to plead with Governor Bellingham to let her keep Pearl, whom the Governor thinks would be better raised in a more Christian household. Hester has decorated Pearl in a “crimson velvet tunic” embroidered with gold thread.
The narrator comments that “the child’s whole appearance … was the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed with life! ” When the children in the town try to throw mud at her, Pearl chases them away and appears to resemble “the scarlet fever” in her wrath. Hester arrives at the Governor’s mansion and enters. The mansion contains pictures of the Bellingham ancestors and a new suit of armor for the Governor himself, but has an air of stuffiness. Pearl plays games by looking into the armor and then goes to look at the garden, from which she demands a red rose.
When the Governor approaches, Pearl excitedly falls silent. Comments: Pearl remains a symbol of sin in the community for she is labeled a “devil’s child’ because her father is not known. When Pearl demands a rose from the garden, the scene in front of the prison is remembered, this is obviously one of the references to the rose that Hawthorne was talking of in the beginning. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 8 Vocabulary: expatiating, behest, bedizen, imbibes, mountebank, boon, vehemence Questions: 1) Why do the four men that enter tease Pearl? 2) Why is Pearl so attached to Dimmesdale? ) Why did Mistress Hibbins invite Hester to a witch’s gathering, and what was the symbolism of her refusing because of Pearl? Predictions: Dimmesdale may be Hester’s lover because of Pearl’s natural attraction to him, Roger will increase his effort of finding Hester’s lover, as proved by him wanting to reopen the case. Pearl may become Hester’s one saving grace in the course of the story. Summary: Governor Bellingham, Wilson, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale enter the room. They notice Pearl and begin to tease her by calling her a bird and a demon-child.
When the governor points out that Hester is also present, they ask her why she should be allowed to keep the child. She tells the men that she will be able to teach Pearl an important lesson—the lesson that she has learned from her shame. They are doubtful, and Wilson tries to test Pearl’s knowledge of religious subjects. Wilson resents Pearl’s seeming dislike of him, and Pearl’s refusal to answer even the simplest of questions does not bode well. With nowhere else to turn, Hester begs Dimmesdale to speak for her and her child.
He replies by reminding the men that God sent Pearl and that the child was seemingly meant to be both a blessing and a curse. Swayed by his eloquence, Bellingham and Wilson agree not to separate mother and child. Strangely, Pearl has taken well to Dimmesdale. She goes to him and presses his hand to her cheek. Vexed because Hester seems to have triumphed, Chillingworth presses the men to reopen their investigation into the identity of Hester’s lover, but they refuse, telling him that God will reveal the information when He deems it appropriate.
As Hester leaves the governor’s mansion, Mistress Hibbins pokes her head out of the window to invite Hester to a witches’ gathering. Hester tells her that if she had not been able to keep Pearl, she would have gone willingly. The narrator notes that it seems Pearl has saved her mother from Satan’s temptations. Comments: This chapter seemed to compare Pearl to the scarlet letter, but also parallels her rose in this scene. Hester pleading with Dimmesdale to help her is a sure telling that they have a bond together that Hester and Chillingworth never had. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 9
Vocabulary: appellation, propound, sagacity, erudition, Questions: 1) What other motives does Chillingworth have by changing his name and becoming a physician is Boston? 2) What ails Dimmesdale? 3) What are the rumors that have circulated from Chillingworth’s past? Predictions: Chillingworth may be trying to find the identity of the Pearl’s father. He has done so by implementing himself as a prominent member of the community (a physician). By saying his features have turned to a more evil look, Hawthorne might be saying that Chillingworth’s ultimate goal with the adulterer is to kill him.
Summary: Roger Chillingworth is described in more detail. After arriving at Boston and finding his wife to be an adulterer, he chose to stay and live in the city. His intelligence and skill as a physician make him a popular physician. Dimmesdale’s poor health and Chillingworth’s interest in the young man combine to make many of the church officials try to get them to live together. Dimmesdale declines at first, saying, “I need no medicine. ” Dimmesdale finally gets into the permanent habit of placing his hand over his heart in pain, and he agrees to meet with Chillingworth.
The meeting immediately leads to the two men moving in together. The narrator comments that “A man burdened with a secret should especially avoid the intimacy of his physician. ” The townspeople are for the most part thrilled with the way the relationship between the two men is working out. However, a few townspeople have more innate intuition and are skeptical of the Chillingworth’s true motives. They sense that Chillingworth has undergone a profound change since arriving in Boston, going from a genial old man to an ugly and evil person.
Thus, “it grew to be a widely diffused opinion that the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale … was haunted either by Satan himself, or Satan’s emissary, in the guise of old Roger Chillingworth. ” Comments: A foreboding sense is implied here as Roger develops evil features. His interest in Dimmesdale is cautioning to some, but a sign that he is actively helping the community to others. The Scarlet Letter reading Log Chapter 10 Vocabulary: inimical, askance, perforce, propagate, abasement, amorial, decorously, mirth, somniferous Questions: 1) Why has Chillingworth become so obsessed with figuring out what secrets Dimmesdale has? ) What does Dimmesdale mean when he says Pearl symbolizes “the freedom of broken law? ” Predictions: Chillingworth may have a feeling that Dimmesdale is the other adulterer. Chillingworth discovery of whatever is on Dimmesdale may show that Chillingworth has found what he is looking for and will soon be acting upon this information. Summary: Chillingworth realizes that Dimmesdale is hiding a dark secret. He therefore expends a great deal of time and energy to make Dimmesdale reveal what is troubling him. Dimmesdale is so scared that people will find out his secret that he does not realize Chillingworth’s true intentions.
Chillingworth talks to the minister in a conversation about why men keep secrets in their hearts rather than revealing them immediately. Dimmesdale clutches his breast and struggles to avoid directly answering the questions. They are interrupted by Pearl and Hester walking through the cemetery outside. Pearl is jumping from gravestone to gravestone, and she finally starts dancing upon a large stone. When Hester tries to make her stop, she takes several burrs and arranges them on the scarlet letter. Chillingworth observes that Pearl has no “discoverable principle of being” since she disregards all human order and opinions.
Dimmesdale then remarks that Pearl embodies “the freedom of a broken law. ” When Pearl sees the two men, she hurls one of her burrs at Dimmesdale. Pearl then shouts to her mother that they should leave, or the “Black Man” who has already gotten hold of Dimmesdale will catch them. Chillingworth then tells Dimmesdale that his ailment seems to come from his spiritual side. Chillingworth demands to be told what sort of secret Dimmesdale is hiding. Dimmesdale cries out, “No! —not to thee! —not to an earthly physician! ” and leaves the room. Soon after, Dimmesdale falls asleep while reading.
Chillingworth places his hand over Dimmesdale’s heart and then leaves before the he wakes. He is incredibly full of joy and wonderment after having felt Dimmesdale’s heart. The narrator tells us that he acted “how Satan comports himself when a precious human soul is lost to heaven and won into his kingdom. ” Comments: Chillingworth seems to cross the line in this chapter from having human motives to suffering inhuman possession. Pearl may sense evil more than anyone, calling Chillingworth “the Black Man” and telling her mother that he already has captured Dimmesdale’s soul The Scarlet Letter Reading Log
Chapter 11 Vocabulary: latent, odious, machination, attestation, avowal Questions: 1) What effect does Reverend Dimmesdale’s guilt have upon his popularity in the colony? 2) What practices does Dimmesdale begin as a result of his guilt? Predictions: Chillingworth’s attacks against Dimmesdale may become more violent as revenge consumes him more. When Dimmesdale leaves his house, it may mean he is finally burden far too much by his guilt as is ready for his punishment. Summary: Chillingworth, having figured out that Dimmesdale is the father of Pearl, goes on a subtle campaign to hurt him as much as possible.
Revenge consumes him to the point that he can only focus on causing the other man pain. Dimmesdale never figures out that his enemy is the man whom he considers his only friend and physician. Dimmesdale is so overwhelmed with shame and remorse that he has started to become famous for his sermons. His ability as a speaker is enhanced by the fact that he feels far more sinful than many in his audience. He has even tried to tell his congregation about the sin he committed with Hester Prynne, but always in such a way that they think he is being modest. This causes Dimmesdale even ore pain, for he believes that he is also lying to his people. Dimmesdale also has become a masochist, and he uses chains and whips to beat himself in his closet. In addition he undertakes extremely long fasts, refusing to eat or drink as penance. This fasting causes him to have hallucinations in which he sees his parents, friends, and even Pearl and Hester. One night he decides that there might be a way for him to overcome his anguish, and he quietly leaves his house. Comments: Dimmesdale accompanies his emotional masochism with physical masochism, all in the hopes of banishing sin from his heart.
He still believes that he has done wrong, even when his feelings have not abated, and we sense that he cannot take public claim for Pearl’s birth not only because he is afraid of the town’s reaction, but also because he believes he can somehow atone for the sin enough to allow him to stay silent. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 12 Vocabulary: somnambulism, expiation, scurrilous, erudite Questions: 1) Why does Dimmesdale hold his vigil on the scaffold? 2) Why are Hester and Pearl out at midnight ? 3) What is miraculous about the meteor? Predictions: Dimmesdale will eventually confess to his sin.
Roger may cease to attack Dimmesdale, or may not. Though ,if this confession takes place, Hester and Dimmesdale will be able to live together with their shame, but with each other’s love. Summary: Dimmesdale walks until he reaches the scaffold where Hester was publicly humiliated several years ago. He climbs the stairs and imagines that he has a scarlet letter on his chest that all the world can see. Dimmesdale screams aloud, and he is immediately terrified that the whole town has heard him. Instead, only Governor Bellingham briefly appears on his balcony before retiring to bed.
The Reverend Mr. Wilson approaches the scaffold holding a lantern, but only because he is returning from a late-night vigil. He fails to see Dimmesdale, who is standing on the scaffold. Dimmesdale waits a while longer and then bursts out laughing. Much to his surprise, the voice of Pearl answers him. Hester and Pearl are at the scaffold because they have been at Governor Winthrop’s deathbed taking measurements for a robe. Dimmesdale invites them to join him on the stand, which they do. All three hold hands and Pearl asks him, “Wilt thou stand here with Mother and me, tomorrow noontide? Dimmesdale answers, “I shall, indeed, stand with thy mother and thee one day, but not tomorrow. ” Pearl persists in her question, and Dimmesdale answers that, “the daylight of this world shall not see our meeting. ” At that moment a meteor streaks across the sky, illuminating everything, including Dimmesdale with his hand over his heart and the scarlet letter on Hester’s dress. Looking upward, Dimmesdale believes that he sees a giant A in the sky. When he looks down again, Pearl is pointing to Roger Chillingworth, who is watching him from across the street.
Chillingworth takes Dimmesdale home. The next day, after a sermon that the narrator describes as “the richest and most powerful,” Dimmesdale is greeted by the sexton. The sexton hands him his glove, telling him that it was found on the scaffold where Satan must have left it. The man then tells Dimmesdale that last night, a large A was seen in the sky, which was interpreted to mean “Angel” in honor of Governor Winthrop’s death. Comments: Dimmesdale finally realizes he has to embrace the letter too. He found a sense of freedom on the scaffold by imagining his confession to the world.
A meteor streaks across the sky, illuminating Hester, Pearl, and Dimmesdale in the whitest of light, foreshadowing Dimmesdale’s revelation to the town and, more importantly, the absolution that will come with confession. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 13 Vocabulary: meed, semblance, imbibed, obviated, clew Questions:1) How old is Pearl in this chapter? 2) What does the A now stand for in the eyes of the townspeople? 3) What does Hester resolve to do? Predictions: Hester may soon reveal Chillingworth’s true identity, and his malevolent purpose. This is to protect her lover who may soon confess himself. er devotion to brandishing the A while raising pearl, has left Hester a shell of her former self. This may show that no matter how strong willed one may show about their convictions, it will eventually catch up to them. Summary: Hester’s reputation has changed over the seven years since she had Pearl. Her devotion to serving the sick and needy has given her access into almost every home, and people now interpret the A as meaning “Able” rather than “Adultery. ” The narrator goes so far as to state that “the scarlet letter had the effect of the cross on a nun’s bosom. Hester’s appearance has also changed over the years, but for the worse. Rather than having her youthful good looks, she now seems more like a shell of a human being. Her “rich and luxuriant” hair either has been cut off or remains hidden under a cap. But she “might at any moment become a woman again, if there were only the magic touch to effect the transfiguration. ” Rather than living in passion and feeling, Hester spends most of her time devoted to thought. Indeed, “had little Pearl never come to her from the spiritual world … he might have come down to us in history, hand in hand with Anne Hutchinson, as the foundress of a religious sect. ” Hester resolves to help Dimmesdale by rescuing him from Chillingworth. She has grown strong enough as a woman to see that her previous pact with Chillingworth, in which she promised not to reveal who he really is, was the wrong decision. She therefore decides to meet him, and soon thereafter she finds him in the woods collecting medicinal herbs. Comments: Hester seems to have been forgiven by a majority of the town, except the physician.
Hawthorne notes that Hester has begun to lose her impulsive, passionate sensibility and turn more towards thought, logic, and reasoned action. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 14 Vocabulary: wiry, behest, rankle, propinquity Questions: 1) How has Chillingworth changed in the past 7 years? 2) What does Hester want Chillingworth to do? 3) What effect has Chillingworth had on Dimmesdale? Predictions: Chillingworth’s refusal to pardon Dimmesdale shows that he still intends to push as much pain upon Dimmesdale as possible.
Chillingworth being described as a hard man may be foreshadowing that compassion has left his heart and he will do an unthinkable act even worse than adultery Summary: Hester sends Pearl away for a moment and approaches Chillingworth. He tells her that the council thinks she may be allowed to remove the scarlet letter in due time, to which she replies that no earthly power can decide such a thing. Hester then notices the changes that have taken place in Chillingworth over the past seven years. She sees that he has gone from a soft-spoken scholar to a fierce man.
He “was a striking evidence of man’s faculty of transforming himself into a devil. ” Hester then tells Chillingworth that she plans to reveal his true identity to Dimmesdale. He is unmoved by this, telling her that nothing he or she does can alter the way things now stand. She pleads with Chillingworth to pardon Dimmesdale for what happened so that he can let go of his revenge. Chillingworth replies, “Let the black flower blossom as it may. ” Comments: Chillingworth has tried to drain Dimmesdale’s soul for his own purposes. Hester looks into his eyes and sees nothing but blackness and evil.
Chillingworth is completely unable to forgive or pardon, and he senses with latent rage that events are beginning to happen independently of his purposes. Chillingworth, in his way, has sold his own soul to the devil, The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 15 Vocabulary: sere, verdure, sedulous, petulant, precocity, propensity, beneficence, vivacity, asperity, upbraided Questions: 1) What does Hester think of her husband? 2) Why do Pearl’s questions bother Hester? Predictions: Hester hates her husband for what he has done, this might mean she is willing to stop his corruption and end his life.
When Hester refuses to tell Pearl the meaning of the A , Pearl may come to believe that as the letter is unwanted, she may too become unwanted. Summary: During her Hester’s conversation with Chillingworth, Pearl has managed to play by herself. Her last act is to make the symbol of the scarlet letter out of seaweed and put it on her chest. Her mother asks her if she knows what the letter means, but Pearl only knows it is the letter A. Hester then asks Pearl if she knows why her mother wears the letter. Pearl answers that “It is for the same reason that the minister keeps his hand over his heart! Pearl then demands that her mother tell her what the A stands for and why the minister keeps putting his hand over his heart. Hester lies about the letter for the first time ever, saying that she wears it for the gold thread. Comments: Pearl’s role as a living scarlet letter is to announce to the whole world who the guilty parties are, something she has unwittingly done throughout the novel. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 16 Vocabulary: scintillating, vivacity, scrofula, prattle Questions: 1) Why does Hester plan to meet Dimmesdale in the woods? 2) What symbolic meaning could the sunlight have for Pearl and Hester? ) Why does Pearl think Dimmesdale holds his hand over his heart? Predictions: Once Dimmesdale finds out about Chillingworth true identity, he may decide that he is a public enemy and seek to have him banished or jailed. Summary: Hester takes Pearl on a walk into the woods because she has heard that Dimmesdale will be walking along the forest path. She needs to meet him in order to warn him about who Chillingworth really is. While entering the woods, the sunlight spots start to disappear as Hester approaches them. Pearl tells her that she can still catch the sunlight since she does not yet wear a letter.
She then runs and catches a beam of sunlight, which disappears as soon as Hester tries to put her hand into it. Pearl asks her mother to tell her a story about the Black Man, who is said to haunt the forest. The Black Man is a myth about the devil, and the story says that he carries a large book and pen with which people write their names in blood. The Black Man then puts his mark on the person. Hester, tired of Pearl asking about the scarlet letter, tells her that the letter is the mark of the Black Man, which she received after meeting the Black Man once before.
Dimmesdale then starts coming down the forest path, and Pearl sees him. She asks her mother if he covers his heart because he has a mark on his chest as well. She further asks why he does not wear his mark on the outside of his clothing like her mother does. Comments: Pearl still does not know who her true father is, so she is still curious as to why that is, as well as why the A has something to do with that. Pearl senses the truth, and senses the truth is being withheld from her, but she still does not know why that is. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log
Chapter 17 Vocabulary: contiguity, misanthropy, budy, tarry Questions: 1) How has Dimmesdale’s secret sin affected his life? 2) From what does Hester hope to save Dimmesdale by telling him the truth about Chillingworth? 3) What is Dimmesdale’s reaction to the truth? Predictions: Pearl has become increasingly aware of her surroundings, it may turn out that she mistakenly reveals Dimmesdale’s secret. Dimmesdale may head Hester’s advice of going to Europe, but may die along the way. Summary: Hester calls out to Dimmesdale and starts talking to him.
He tells her that he feels like a cheat whenever he preaches to his congregation, and he longs for a friend who knows his secret. Hester offers to be his friend, but she tells him that he is living with an enemy. She reveals the fact that Chillingworth is her former husband, at which Dimmesdale first appears angry but then sinks down into the ground. He tells Hester that he cannot forgive her for not telling him. Hester, after seven years of desperately wanting forgiveness, puts her arms around Dimmesdale and pleads with him to forgive her, which he finally does.
He begs her to tell him what to do now that he cannot live with Chillingworth any longer. Hester advises Dimmesdale to leave the settlement and go into the wilderness where he can live in peace. He declines the very thought, but she presses him to then take a new name and go to Europe. Dimmesdale says, “thou tellest of running a race to a man whose knees are tottering beneath him! ” Comments: Dimmesdale has withheld confession long enough to have to die for his sin, as though he has traded his own soul, his own daughter, his own love all in order achieve self-preservation.
In return, he has lost his self-respect and will to live. The Scarlet Letter reading Log Chapter 18 Vocabulary: colloquy, trammeled, choleric Questions: 1) Why is the chapter called, “A Flood of Sunshine” ? 2) What is the sunshine a symbol of? 3) When Hester throws down her scarlet letter, her beauty returns. What is the “magic touch” that effects the transformation? Predictions: Dimmesdale and Hester may live a full and happy life together away from the site of their sin. Summary: Dimmesdale allows himself to be overcome by Hester’s arguments for leaving, and he resolves to go with her.
He is happy once he makes the decision to go, and he feels that a burden of guilt has been lifted from his shoulders. Hester, in a moment of passion, says, “Let us not look back. ” She then undoes the scarlet letter and tosses it from her, watching it land only a few feet from the stream which would have carried it away. Hester tells Dimmesdale that he must get to know Pearl so that he can love her the way she does. She calls Pearl, who is standing in a ray of sunshine. The narrator then compares Pearl to a nymph and calls her a wild spirit. He tells that the animals were not afraid of her, and even a wolf allowed her to pat its head.
Pearl has decorated herself with wild flowers, both in her hair and on her clothing. When she sees the minister she approaches slowly. Comments: We finally get a sense of happiness in the dreariness that the book has portrayed so far. Innocence has not been lost in Pearl, though she has had her misgivings, she turns out to be the one saving grace for Hester and Dimmesdale. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 19 Vocabulary: accosting, prattle, inured, preternatural Questions: 1) What does Dimmesdale mean when he says, “Oh, Hester, what a thought is that, and how terrible to dread it ! hat my own features were part repeated in her face, and so strikingly that the world might see them! ” Predictions: This seems to be the beginning of the end. Whether it is a good or bad ending depends on the actions of Pearl. It seems as though all is well, but Chillingworth has not been brought up yet, he could be the doom to all of their plans. Summary: Hester watches as Pearl walks up to the stream and stops on the other side, still standing in a ray of sunlight. Dimmesdale is anxious that Pearl should cross the stream, and he asks Hester to make her hurry.
Pearl starts screaming and convulsing and points to Hester’s chest, where the scarlet letter had been removed. Hester finally has to get up and cross the stream, reattach the letter, and put her hair back under her hat. Hester then drags Pearl up to where Dimmesdale is sitting. Pearl again asks if the minister will always keep his hand over his heart and if he will walk into town with them. Dimmesdale gives her a kiss on the forehead, but Pearl runs away and washes the kiss off in the stream. Comments: Pearl realizes something has changed, she sees that in the fact that Hester has thrown the letter away.
Pearl wants Dimmesdale to take ownership of his own letter, because she sees it as him taking ownership of her alongside her mother, but when he refuses to, she goes back to the old Pearl. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 20 Vocabulary: vicissitude, introspection, uncouth, mutability, grandam, aught, pithy, gild, potentate, dell, requite Questions: 1) Why do they choose to go to Europe rather than remain in the New World ? 2) How does it happen that Hester is acquainted with the captain of the ship now in the harbor? 3) Why does Dimmesdale consider it fortunate that the ship is not to sail for 4 days? ) When Mistress Hibbens offers to introduce Dimmesdale to “yonder potentate you wot of,” to whom is she referring? Predictions: Dimmesdale’s merry attitude is almost his downfall, if he had even uttered one word of the many thoughts he would have been condemned. When Dimmesdale says he no longer wants his physicians medicines, it puts Chillingworth on edge, out of pure desperation Chillingworth may kill Dimmesdale before it is too late. Summary: Dimmesdale returns to town thoroughly aware of having a new perception of life. He has much more energy than when he left two days earlier, and everything looks different to him.
Three times in a row he is approached by various people, and he struggles not to utter blasphemy. He is even tempted to teach dirty words to a group of small Puritan children. Mistress Hibbins overhears him complain that he is haunted and tempted. She stops and asks Dimmesdale when he will be returning to the forest—so that she may join him. He tells her he is never going back, to which she replies that at midnight they will soon be together in the forest. She then departs, leaving Dimmesdale terrified of what he has done with Hester. Dimmesdale finally returns home and enters his study.
Chillingworth enters and offers to make some medicine for Dimmesdale so that he will have enough energy to write his Election Sermon. The Election Sermon is meant to be the highlight of the clergyman’s career to date, and it is an extremely important speech. Dimmesdale declines the offer and instead orders some food, which he eats “with ravenous appetite. ” He then sits down and starts writing his sermon, continuing all through the night and even well into the morning. Comments: Dimmesdale’s confusion and changed spirit are clearly results of his passionate bonding with Hester in the woods.
Dimmesdale’s Election Sermon might have some ideas that could reflect his new learning about the importance of confession and responsibility for sin, with or without including his own confession of adultery, or he could use the sermon as a chance for personal redemption. In either case, we sense that Dimmesdale is already doomed, for he has led his congregation astray too long. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 21 Vocabulary: betimes, quaff, lees, mirth, scruple, tempestuous, probity, animadversion, galliard Questions: 1) What have the crowds of people gathered in the market-place to witness? ) Of what ceremony in England was the Election Day pageantry a pale imitation? 3) What piece of unwelcome news does the master of the ship on which, she, Pearl , and Dimmesdale are to sail have for Hester? Predictions: Chillingworth seems to be working on a plot to take out all 3 of them at one time. Whether that means by poisoning them, throwing them overboard, or just killing them, it could happen if they get on the boat. Summary: Hester and Pearl go into the town and enter the marketplace, which is teeming with people.
The holiday is to celebrate the election of a new Governor, and festivities are planned for one of the few non-Sundays when everyone stops working. A group of sailors is also in the town, planning to leave the next day. Hester and Dimmesdale have worked out a plan to escape on their ship. But Roger Chillingworth talks to the ship’s captain, who then comes over to Hester. He tells her that he is adding Chillingworth to the crew for the voyage, since he can always use another physician. Hester barely reacts in her outward expression, but after the captain goes she sees Chillingworth smiling at her.
Comments: Chillingworth’s victory serves a number of plot devices and thematic purposes. For one, it prevents Dimmesdale from getting away without public shame. If he could simply leave, he never would have to truly confront the full scope of his sin, not just the adultery, but also his hypocritical failure to take responsibility for an act he repeatedly condemned to his congregation. Chillingworth, then, is actually setting Dimmesdale free, for the reverend will finally now confess before his congregation and gain the redemption that comes with death. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log
Chapter 22 Vocabulary: clarion, morion, indefatigable, swarthy, surmise Questions: 1) What is particularly noticeable about Dimmesdale’s manner as he walks in the procession? 2) Where does Hester stand during the procession and during Dimmesdale’s sermon in the church? Predictions: Chillingworth may be trying to dispose of Dimmesdale before he gets on the boat so that he and Hester may start a new life together. Summary: A large parade of soldiers and magistrates goes through the town. Dimmesdale, towards the end of the procession, appears to have far more energy than ever before.
Pearl tells her mother that she wants to ask him to kiss her in broad daylight, at which point Hester tells Pearl to hush. Mistress Hibbins comes up to Hester and tells her that she knows Dimmesdale and Hester met in the woods. She indicates that she knows about Dimmesdale having received the badge of sin and knows that he is hiding it. She then says that the Black Man has “a way of ordering matters so that the mark shall be disclosed in open daylight to the eyes of all the world. ” Hester takes Pearl and goes to stand near the foot of the scaffold in order to listen to Dimmesdale’s speech.
Pearl then takes off and runs around playing. The ship’s captain gets Pearl to come to him, and he gives her a message. Pearl returns to her mother and tells her that Chillingworth has told the captain that he will make sure Dimmesdale gets on board, and that Hester only has to worry about herself and Pearl. Hester is crushed by this new information. She stands still. She is soon surrounded by many people who are trying to get a glimpse of the scarlet letter on her breast. Comments: This is the highlight of Dimmesdale’s moral career. Hester is devastated by the news that has come regarding Dimmesdale and Chillingworth.
There is a sense that good events are being undermined by bad news. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 23 Vocabulary: oracles, apotheosis, nether Questions: 1)How does Dimmesdale appear as he leaves the church after his triumphant sermon? 2) How does Pearl react when Dimmesdale calls Hester and herself to mount the scaffold with him? Predictions: Chillingworth may soon become a withered man after he has spent 7 years attacking Dimmesdale, only to have him confess in public. Dimmesdale may have a happy life together with Hester and Pearl. In the end it may be that they will be accepted for their sin together.
Summary: Dimmesdale finishes his sermon, and the crowd erupts in loud applause. It marks the highest point of Dimmesdale’s life. Dimmesdale then loses the energy which had sustained him ever since meeting Hester in the forest. He slowly walks over to the scaffold and pillory. When he arrives, he calls out, “Hester, come hither! Come, my little Pearl! ” Pearl immediately runs over to him and hugs his knees. Roger Chillingworth grabs his arm and demands that he stop, but Dimmesdale laughs him off and says that he will now escape Chillingworth’s evil influence.
Dimmesdale stands on the scaffold calling Hester, who slowly comes over to him. Chillingworth bitterly tells Dimmesdale that there is no place on earth he could have escaped to, except on the scaffold, where he would have been safe. Hester is terrified that all three of them will die after this spectacle. The crowd is bewildered by the actions of the minister. He tells them that he should have stood with Hester seven years earlier. Dimmesdale then indicates that he has secretly worn the badge of the scarlet letter the whole time, without anyone knowing it.
At that, “he tore away the ministerial band from before his breast. It was revealed! ” Dimmesdale then sinks down to his knees and asks Pearl to kiss him now. She does, and “a spell was broken … her tears fell upon her father’s cheek, they were the pledge that she would grow up amid human joy and sorrow, nor forever do battle with the world. Towards her mother, too, Pearl’s errand as a messenger of anguish was all fulfilled. ” Dimmesdale then dies on the scaffold. Comments: Dimmesdale’s confession has been the long awaited resolution to this story. He has defeated Chillingworth, while gaining the ove of his daughter. The Scarlet Letter Reading Log Chapter 24 Vocabulary: portent, nugatory, bequeathed, escutcheon, sable, gules Questions: 1) Explain why Chillingworth desperately tries to stop Dimmesdale from confessing his sins on the scaffold? 2) What do you think Dimmesdale means when he describes his and Hester’s sin as violating “our reverence for each other’s soul” ? Summary: Soon after Dimmesdale dies, Roger Chillingworth also passes away. He leaves all of his estate to Pearl, who immediately becomes the wealthiest heiress in the New World. Hester and Pearl then disappear for several years.
Hester returns to live the rest of her life in her cottage, and she becomes famous throughout the community for her help with the poor and sick. The narrator infers that Pearl is happily married and living overseas in Europe. Hester eventually dies and is buried in the cemetery at the site of the King’s Chapel. Comments: The ending is somewhat bittersweet. Pearls’ father is dead, but she inherits his estate. Poetic justice is served as Roger Chillingworth dies alone and with nothing to prove after 7 years of hard work. Pearl has a normal life in Europe as Hester dies and is buried in King’s Chapel.