Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Scarlet Letter – Summary Chapter XVII – XX

Chapter XVII – The Pastor and His Parishioner

Dimmesdale and Hester met each other in the forest; Hester told him that Chillingworth was his husband who wanted to take avenge, and encouraged him to leave the past and sought for new life elsewhere. Dimmesdale did not have the courage to make it alone, and asked Hester for help, which Hester agreed.

Chapter XVIII – A Flood of Sunshine

Right after their plan of leaving together was settled, Hester put off her scarlet letter which made her beauty shone again at once; and both she and Dimmesdale felt free and delighted, just as the sun suddenly brightly shone. Dimmesdale was afraid Pearl would not love him, but Hester insisted that she would.

All at once, as with a sudden smile of heaven, forth burst the sunshine, pouring a very flood into the obscure forest, gladdening each green leaf, transmitting the yellow fallen ones to gold, and gleaming adown the gray trunks of the solemn trees.” (p. 173)


Chapter XIX – The Child at the Brookside

When Pearl returned to the scene from playing with animals and flowers on the other side of the brook, she refused to come to her mother, whom she was not familiar without her scarlet letter; and only after Hester put it back—and her shine of beauty vanished—Pearl came to her. However Pearl refused Dimmesdale’s affectionate kiss on her brow, and washed it at the brook.

Side note:
Hester felt estranged from Pearl when she put off the scarlet letter. Was it because Pearl born from the sin (thus symbolized by the scarlet letter), and when she denied it, she lost her bond with Pearl? Dimmesdale felt it too: “I have a strange fancy, that this brook is the boundary between two worlds, and that thou canst never meet thy Pearl again…” (p. 178)


Chapter XX – The Minister in a Maze

Out from the forest, Mr. Dimmesdale saw things around him differently; he had wicked thoughts in him now that were eager to burst out, and wondered where it came from or why it happened. He dismissed Chillingworth’s medical service, and casually hinted that he might left the city, then ended the night by re-writing his sermon for the next day’s Election—in his newly awaken passion.

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