The Scarlet Letter Critical Analysis Chapter Wise

Critical Analysis:

Chapter 1

Prison is used as a black flower. The reason behind this is that prison is meant to punish sin but they would not exist without sin. Prisons are fed on sin to grow like a flower which grows by water and sunlight. In the novel, the prison as a black flower very much contrast with the rose bush in front of the prison grows naturally. 

The meaning of the prison and the rose is contrasting like the prison punishes the people for the sin and the rose bush and nature forgive the sin in the novel. In chapter one of the novel the moral of the story so far bubbles as that people must forgive sins accepting the worst qualities of others and their own. 

Chapter 2

As prison is built to punish the sinners and the lawbreakers, in puritan society Puritans do the same thing with the people who go behind the bars. Puritans are supposed to hate sin and whoever commits sin is considered to be evils. With a grim face, puritans gather to watch the sinners are getting punished and are being judged and executed. The comments mentioned about Hester mark the puritans as harsh and cold. The shame of Dimmesdale foreshadows his involvement with Hester’s crime. However, Hester and her daughter Perl are pure and innocent.

 The people gathered around the scaffold are more sinners than them. In contrast, Hester and Pearl are more beautiful and natural in the heart than the attendants. Being an individual she faces the crowd. As a result, she looks like a symbol of individuality as the embroidering letter transforms into a token of shame. 

The narrator relates the embroidery letter to nature with the word fertile. Hester’s appearance sheer contrasts with the crowd because of the sin she remains as a vibrant individual. Her isolation is only marked by her sin which defines her identity. Hester believes herself as a virgin like Mother Mary. Hester takes this model in her life as a symbol of purity in contrast to the crowd. In her heart Hester wants to rebel against all the puritans gathered around the scaffold. 

Hester does not raise her voice being ashamed and retreats into her own mind. It is seen in this chapter that Hester, the letter, and the daughter Pearl are surrounded by sin. The letter controls her as if she is at the mercy of the puritan law. 

Chapter 3

In an agonizing situation, the person who is supposed is comfort Hester becomes her pain instead. He is none other than Chillingworth who makes her life uneasy and solitary. Chillinworth is not innocent, beautiful, and warm-hearted rather cruel, hard-hearted, and completely in contrast to nature. He is presented as civilized savage, deformed and, inhuman. Trickily Chillingworth silenced Hester so that she may not reveal his name. His reputation is more important than the life of Hester and Pearl. He wants to protect his reputation by silencing her mouth. He makes sure that he is not involved at all with her life. This type of people is presented in the novel to show the hypocrisy of the society who is cold-blooded and do not hesitate to lie about anything in order to make sure that he remains safe. 

Chillingworth stands watching his wife’s suffering on the scaffold and in prison just only to protect his fame, name, and social status. In fact, Chillingworth abandons her from his life. 

The suggestion of Chillingworth is approved. Chillingworth comes as the Puritan’s perspective on the crime of Hester as he aligned himself with the case willingly. His ways of dealing, behaving and regulating the case trace no connection to his earlier relationship with her. He behaves in such a way that he had no connection ever with her before. In the novel, the mention of the ‘law’ too much emphasizes the fusion of religion and the law of the Puritan. Dimmesdale faces the public’s expectation of Hester that she has her love and she wants to divulge but lack of courage she cannot reveal his name.  

Chapter 4

The two contrastive nature between Hester, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale, is very much obvious in the novel. Chillingworth and Dimmesdale both abandon Hester and thus commits sin. on the other hand, Hester like a forgiving person endures all these pains in his heart by keeping her mouth shut. Hester only receives punishment for not committing any sin except the sin of not revealing the name of the accused ones. She is completely broken, with no dot of trust in anybody even her husband. She cannot believe anybody that is why she remains outcast and alone with Pearl. 

Hester shows her magnanimous heart like Jesus who forgives the sins of those who crucify him by bearing the unbearable pain. Hester knows the accused persons who caused her this situation. She could save herself by revealing the identity of Dimmesdale and Chillingworth. However, he does not open her mouth in order to protect Dimmesdale and Chillingworth. She is truly a worrier.  

Chapter 5

 Hester is excluded from society, she is cornered because of her magnanimous heart by forgiving the accused persons who brought this hell of the situation in her life. She goes through all pains, rejection, punishment, exclusion, and hatred like Jesus on the cross who forgives the sins of those who crucified him, hated him, persecuted him, and spit on him. Hester knows the accused persons who caused her this situation. She knew that she could save herself by revealing the identity of Dimmesdale and Chillingworth. However, he does not open her mouth in order to protect Dimmesdale and Chillingworth. She was ready to save them at the cost of her life. She is truly a warrior.  

Puritan society is full of hypocrisy. They enforce the law on others. But they themselves are the criminals. Hester as a member of society is only an instrument to be played. Moreover, the players are in the hierarchy. Dimmesdale and Chillingworth both keep a secret. Likewise, Hester keeps a secret in her heart. This secret harms them interiorly.

Chapter 6

Peal is an innocent child who does not share any sin or crime with her mother as she is presented in society. being not a puritan conformer, Pearl is an individual infant though Hester passed on her own defiant sinful flesh with her daughter. However, Pearl showed so much obsession with the letter that Hester thought that Pearl is obsessed. In fact, it is true that silently the crime of hers is being passed on to her, Hester. Pearl is surrounded by sin though not visible. Being part of Hester, Pearl also is a sinful child who is condemned by the Puritan society. In the eyes of society, the innocent child pearl is not innocent but evil.  

Chapter 7

The practice of hypocrisy among Puritans is very obvious. The people in that society shunned Hester and pearl. Now the people of that society turn to them and show intensive concern for Hester and Pearl. But it was a doubtful question why do they suddenly begin to care about them? 

Hester with no evil intention in her heart serves those who persecuted her. Such a real-life event is very rare in society. However, the people in Puritan society do not forgive her rather make her only a maid in their hand. Pearl-like the scarlet letter represents the sin of her mother and her individuality. 

The governor Bellingham lives life like an aristocrat in his home decorated with armor and formal dark portraits and the relics use in his house were brought from English soil. this shows the sheer hypocrisy of Puritans.

Just like the soil in the country is hard for the rose sapling to grow, so the heart of the puritans are the same. Pearl requests her mother to forgive her. 

Chapter 8

 The hypocrisy of puritans are very broadly presented here. John Wilson, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale play with Pearl. They call her demon child. In the beginning, they held no ill intentions while playing with Pearl. But when Hester comes to the scene, the role of the men changes. This is pure hypocrisy of the Puritan society. 

The scarlet letter on Hester means her sinful life according to the puritans. Bellingham considers the letter as the symbol of the committed sin of Hester not her life of individual living. 

The puritans want to hear from Pear that God has made her. They presume if Pearl does not confess her existence in the world by God, she is evil and her soul is in danger, ruin, and in damnation. 

But Dimmesdale tries to defense Hester from the punishment. Moreover, he says that Pearl is a gift from God. However, the true hypocrisy of the Puritan society is represented through Chillingworth as he begins to doubt Dimmesdale. This is the true nature of a society when a person begins to show compassion for the needy, others take an ill-thought. 

Pearl shows a connection to Dimmesdale. However, Mr. Wilson sees Pearl as a witch who does not touch the ground.

The Puritan leaders almost take Pear away from Hester her mother thinking she is a demon. However, they come to the understanding that she is not a demon child but the sister of Bellingham’s sister. It shows that evil exists at the core of the Puritan Society, not inside the pearl. 

Chapter 9

Chillingworth cheats the puritan society by being a good puritan which is fully a disguised form of Chillingworth. He is the main culprit in society, not the accused Hester and her innocent daughter. Chillingworth fools the authorities of the puritan society. 

the main two worst sinners in the novel now live together. It seems that in only feeds them. 

However, they cannot go on sinning. Nature takes its revenge. Both the sinners in the novel which the readers understand but not the people in the novel suffer from inner turmoil. The two other sinners are no other than Chillingworth and Dimmesdale who go through physical ailments because of inner silent suffering. They have kept secrets of their sins from society which causes them to have inner self getting withered, dried, and died.

Chapter 10

In sheer realization, Chillingworth realizes that he has committed a grievous mistake by not revealing the truth of his engagement with Hester. She slowly internalizes the result of hiding his sins. However, he goes on keeping the secret with him and becomes an absolute leech of Dimmesdale’s sin.

The concept of Pearl’s strange behavior like a witch is very well connected here as she always fixed her eyes on the scarlet letter. The scarlet letter of Hester is like a strange symbol to Pearl hanging around Hester’s neck. She does not understand the meaning of the scarlet letter as wear for Hester. This becomes the obvious result of Pearl behaving like a witch. In fact, Hester is partly responsible for Pearl’s looking off because she keeps the secret meaning of the scarlet letter from Pearl.

When Pearl comes to know that Dimmesdale is a sinner, she throws an extension of the scarlet letter. A question is asked here is the sin committed by Dimmesdale adultery or silent? 

Chillingworth as a puritan puts always a face of righteousness in society. But the real story is vividly manifested in the novel. He is actually a big sinner. 

Chapter 11

In suspicion, hatred, and inner turmoil, the two great sinners, Dimmesdale and Chillingworth, are lost. They console each other for not revealing the truth and sinning against Hester. They come to the sheer realization that they have committed an unforgivable mistake by hurting Hester and not accepting her in society. concerned about sins, they cannot stay without sinning. The puritans punish the sinners but here they are the main accused ones who are free from punishment. strict, always vigilant, and law-abiding Puritans cannot recognize the real culprits punishing the innocent life in the public. 

Dimmesdale laments inside for the secret sin he has done with Hester. He cannot forgive himself. The true conscience of Dimmesdale puts him in the dark cloud of doubt and self remorse. The only relief of his inner suffering is his public confession. The salvation of his inner soul only lies in his confession of sins.

Chapter 12

Dimmesdale cannot bear any more of his sins. deciding to share his secret sins, he comes to Hester. The sins he committed to Hester he apologizes to Hester privately. Fear of public Dimmesdale does not face the crowd which Hester does in her bold heart. 

On judgment day Dimmesdale stays back so that he may not be seen by Pearl in order to escape his secrets. He was looking for salvation from them. The life now Dimmesdale becomes as if he is looking for salvation from witchcraft, not from religion. 

The scarlet letter is tuned now very well with nature and celebrates its joy with nature. On the other hand, Dimmesdale secretly goes through inner punishment, repentance, and self-truth. Suppressing his own sin which gives him unbearable pain Dimmesdale lectures a big motivating sermon against sin. His sermon gets more power among the crowd. However, the crowd does not recognize the real sinful man. Moreover, the puritans being blind both internal and external accept his sermon gladly. 

Chapter 13

A long time has passed since Hester has been cornered by Puritans. with her skill she gathers acceptance from puritans and the scarlet letter draws much kind attention from the people. 

People slowly come to her with love in the heart. However, they cannot fully think of Hester as their own because the puritan law does not allow it to forgive the sinner without giving punishment. The people of puritan society believe that Hester will not go to heaven for the sin she has committed. 

Hester knows she has not committed any sin in the eyes of God because Dimmesdale is still alive. To save Dimmesdale she silently bears the pain. On the part of Hester, she tries at her level best to save Dimmesdale but Dimmesdale never took the least attempt to save Hester. Dimmesdale thought of Pearl the little innocent girl. No love, no compassion no sign of kind feeling bubbles in the heart of Dimmesdale. 

Chapter 14

 in the honest boldness of her heart, Hester states that she will remove the letter from her neck when the time comes. She asks Chillingworth not to torment Dimmesdale. When Hester points out that she is worthy of removing the letter, it becomes a sarcastic jab at the face of puritans. 

The argument between Hester and Chillingworth becomes bitter on the issue of Dimmesdale’s link with Hester. Chillingworth argues that the life of Dimmesdale is in the hand of Chillingworth, he is saving him from death. However, Hester cites that Chillingworth is sinning more by making Dimmesdale suffer internally. And she pleads with Chillingworth not to punish him anymore silently. 

Only Hester is absolutely true and honest who does not want other’s suffering. She accepts her faults and shoulder responsibility for them to mend them. without bothering others she silently bears all pains. 

Now Dimmesdale comes to a repentant realization. In tear, Dimmesdale tell that he should not have kept the secret with him from Chillingworth and the public which has resulted in their ruin. Dimmesdale repents his sin with Hester but Chillingworth cleverly escapes from revealing his sin. Rather he finds out others’ sin and punishes them without internalizing his own sin. 

Chapter 15

Hester gives more thought about her own happiness than fearing of sin. The tricks Chillingworth plays with Hester is very visible to Hester. Therefore she becomes more aware of her life and prioritizes her happiness. 

Pearl unknowingly asks her mother to make a scarlet letter for her. She wishes to wear a letter. When Pearl asks why she wears the letter, Hester answers that it is because that is golden looking. The beauty Hester finds positive life in the scarlet letter though it carries shames, a symbol of punishments and rejection and shares a positive outlook with her daughter, Pearl.

Chapter 16

Nature is the only true and honest place on earth. Hester finds nature in the garden as an honest place to meet Dimmesdale. Despite suffering, pain, and rejection, Hester seeks an honest place a true place on earth which is very remarkable in the novel. 

To Pearl in the forest, Hester tells lie. Hester tells the story of the devil to hide her sin. Dimmesdale also lied about the glove on the scaffold. 

However being shrewd at an early age, Pearl understands the relationship between her mother, Hester, and Dimmesdale. She easily identifies the link between Hester and her father Dimmesdale. 


Chapter 17

The secret sin and the hidden identity of Dimmesdale are paining him from inside. He is the one who has created such immoral value in him. However, Hester and Pearl’s attempt in keeping the secret has the purpose of protecting them. On the other hand, Chillingworth keeps secrets to harm others. to save Dimmesdale, Hester suggests he leave Puritan society and Boston city without confessing his sins in the public. Also, she tells them that he can take them with him then nobody will be at stake here.  

Chapter 18

in an attempt to flee the puritan society they Dimmesdale, Hester and Pearl come to a forest t. they want to be free from the pressure of Puritans and want to make love. They become reunited in the forest as if nature has made them unite to show their purity. There is no wrong in making love faithfully in the eyes of God. As a result, Hester and Dimmesdale have not committed any sin against God but against Puritanism.

Chapter 19

The scarlet letter is a part of Hester’s identity. She cannot run from this identity as long as she is in Boston. Moreover, the scarlet letter cannot be thrown away. Without the scarlet letter, Pearl does not identify Hester which shows without the scarlet letter Hester has no identity. 

Pearl refused to come to Dimmesdale. unless Dimmesdale confesses his sins in the public and accepts them as family Pearl hesitates to forgive Dimmesdale. Naturally, Pearl loves honesty and openness. Therefore she suggests Dimmesdale be open and accept them publicly.

Chapter 20

Dimmesdale decides to flee with Hester and Pearl. But the decision to flee from Boston suddenly changed him. It might be the reason for Mistress Hobbins who comes to know his plan. However, it is good to see that Dimmesdale does not react to his repression in this situation. 

Dimmesdale gathers the courage to charge his own identity by dismissing Chillingworth. To do so Dimmesdale lies again. The reign of telling lies has become a custom of the people of Boston as a shield. However, Dimmesdale in his sermon wants to say something with which he will begin his new life.

Chapter 21

On the day of the governor’s inauguration many Indians lines in a procession. Hester, Dimmesdale, and Pearl wait for the chance to board in order to run from Boston. Puritans seemed to be always somber and severe which is very well depicted in the novel.

However, it is time for Chillingworth to burn in the fire of rage, anger, and revenge. Bitter hate toward Dimmesdale and Hester devoured him. Not at rest, he runs for taking revenge. A wild force engulfs him which has made him inhuman. 

Chapter 22

Hester in deep efforts takes action to quiet Pearl. Pearl wants to know Dimmesdale. However, Hester does not want Pearl should know him any of his recognition. As a result, she keeps the secrets of Dimmesdale from Pearl because she wishes to keep her love preserved in the silence of her heart. Thus Hester lies again and covers up the sin though it does not work. 

One of the natures of the scarlet letter is that it flips the conventional ideas of religion and the witch or occult. The occult has a meaning of honesty but the puritans create repressed liars. Here the scarlet letter carries no badge of innate shame. 

Chapter 23

The sermon Dimmesdale present is from God which is the thought of the Puritans. However, they cannot see the sin he has done with Hester. Dimmesdale comes to feel that he is going to die. In the third scene of the scaffold, Dimmesdale turns to a public confession of his sins. However, his confession could not save him but Pearl. Dimmesdale in suffering finds God’s mercy and forgiveness and dies happily. 

The treatment of the Puritan community overwhelms Hester. Hester finds themself very lost even the presence of the scarlet letter on her breast seems to be losing her. Even Pearl seems to be ignoring her mother for not recognizing her without the letter. She suspected to be possessed by demons. Hester experiences pathetic trauma. 

 Chapter 24

The few rumors about Dimmesdale become true. Dimmesdale is the sole responsible for his own punishment, Chillingworth showed hatred toward Dimmesdale which ruined him, and his remorse suffered him silently. The lie Dimmesdale held in his mind works as a false ceiling of his reputation to protect his face. 

The story says that you should do anything to protect your reputation that kills your soul, be open to your conscience. 

Chillingworth was feeding on sin, without sin he gets withered. on the other hand, Pear is a battling girl who as a gift of God finds joyful life amid hard life. Hester with Pearl as a gift of God accepts the scarlet letter as part of her life. 

 the meaning of the scarlet letter changed in the death of Hester which is put on the stone of the grave: the meaning of the scarlet becomes reunification of Dimmesdale and Hester.  

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