Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Scarlet Letter Study Questions and Answers

In AP English, we are reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and we had to do these insane study guide questions and find a quote with a page number for each answer. It took me about 45 minutes to read each chapter and do the study questions for it, and there were 24 chapters, so that means I spent around 18 hours working on this study guide. I couldn't find answers to these questions anywhere online, so I decided I would do a good job on them so I could post them because I don't think anyone should have to spend 18 hours on an assignment like this. I know a lot of other people have to do the same study guide for their school, so I hope this will save a lot of people time especially with the finding quotes part, or if you are stuck on a question. I lost chapters 18 to 24, but I have 1 to 17, so I hope you find this helpful, please tell me so in the comments!

Chapter 1
1. The setting of the Scarlet Letter is Boston in the 1640’s. “It may safely be assumed that the forefathers of Boston…” That line indicated that Boston was the setting and the introduction already stated that the story was set in the mid to late 1600’s. pg 43 and “The grass-plot before the jail, in Prison Lane, on a certain summer morning, not less than two centuries ago” pg 45
2. Hawthorne began the story with a reflection about the need for a cemetery and a prison because he wanted to emphasize that a new colony was founded and the first thing this free colony did was make places that represent the opposite of freedom. “The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison.” Pg 43
3. The wild rosebush that grows beside the prison door represents hope. It’s right next to a dilapidated prison that is an ugly place to be, and everything around it is unsightly, except for it, which brings beauty to the scene, showing that there can be something beautiful or good in a bad situation, like hope. “But, on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rose-bush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him.” Pg 44
4. Anne Hutchinson was an English woman who stood up to the puritans in court to fight for the freedom to follow any religion you wish. Her wish was not granted and she was banned from the colony to live with Indians. “…as there is fair authority for believing, it had sprung up under the footsteps of the sainted Ann Hutchinson, as she entered the prison-door…” Pg 44
5. Hawthorne doesn’t know where the rosebush came from but by referring Ann Hutchinson, it’s like he’s saying that the Puritan beliefs have made everything ugly and hated, but there is still hope, and some people can still bring beauty into the situation, people like Ann who opposed the Puritans’ beliefs and went against them.“…as there is fair authority for believing, it had sprung up under the footsteps of the sainted Ann Hutchinson, as she entered the prison-door…” Pg 44
Chapter 2
1. This chapter begins on a negative note. The day is  nice, but everyone gathered around knows that something bad is going on. “The grass-plot before the jail, in Prison Lane, on a certain summer morning, not less than two centuries ago, was occupied by a pretty large number of the inhabitants of Boston; all with their eyes intently fastened on the iron-clamped oaken door. Amongst any other population, or at a later period in the history of New England, the grim rigidity that petrified the bearded physiognomies of these good people would have augured some awful business in hand.” Pg 45
2. Hawthorne is saying that the Puritan women of the New World were too interested in the punishment of other women. They would get as close to the punishment platform and watch what was going on.“…the women, of whom there were several in the crowd, appeared to take a peculiar interest in whatever penal infliction might be expected to ensue. The age had not so much refinement, that any sense of impropriety restrained the wearers of petticoat and farthingale from stepping forth into the public ways, and wedging their not unsubstantial persons, if occasion were, into the throng nearest to the scaffold at an execution. Morally, as well as materially, there was a coarser fibre in those wives and maidens of old English birth and breeding…” pg 46 The women also wanted other women to be punished more severely than they were. They really wanted everyone to get what they deserved, as one woman said, “If the hussy stood up for judgment before us five, that are now here in a knot together, would she come off with such a sentence as the worshipful magistrates have awarded? Marry, I trow not!”” pg 47
3. The sin that Hester Payne is being condemned for wasn’t outrightly stated, but the women in the town were talking about her, and all of the things they said alluded to the fact that she had been unfaithful and adulterous, hence the A on her gown, and that she had done something sexually immoral. That is also why she is holding the baby. “But she,—the naughty baggage,—little will she care what they put upon the bodice of her gown!” pg 47 This quote shows that the people knew she had been “naughty”, or sexually immoral.
4. The Old Testament punishment for adultery was death. One woman said it, “ ‘This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die. Is there not law for it? Truly there is, both in the Scripture and the statute-book.’ ” pg 47
5. The public think Hester’s sin was terrible and that she deserves to die. This shows that society was very tough and religious, and they lived by the bible’s strict rules. “This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die.” Pg 47
6. Hester’s punishment was that she had to stand on the scaffolding for everyone to look at her, while holding her baby, and having the letter “A” for adultery stitched into her dress, which she had to do herself. “In Hester Prynne’s instance, however, as not unfrequently in other cases, her sentence bore, that she should stand a certain time upon the platform” pg. 51
7. The surprising thing about the “A” that Hester has sewn for herself is that it’s really beautifully done. The fact that she took so much time to beautifully stitch this letter could mean that she wasn’t ashamed of her sin and that she didn’t really care that other people thought it was wrong. “On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A. It was so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it had all the effect of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel which she wore” pg 48
8. Hawthorn alludes to the Madonna and Child when Hester is standing on the platform, holding her baby in her arms, close to her body because it compares her to Mary holding baby Jesus. Hester had taken pride in stitching her letter A on her dress, and had been holding her beautiful self proudly, just like Mary had been. Her child represents innocence and purity just like baby Jesus did. “…who stood on the scaffold of the pillory, an infant on her arm.” pg 54
9. The use of physiognomy, the judging of a person’s natural character based on looks, would have in this case meant that Hester was a kind person. She was portrayed as beautiful and elegant, so she should have a matching personality based on physiognomy. “The young woman was tall, with a figure of perfect elegance, on a large scale. She had dark and abundant hair, so glossy that it threw off the sunshine with a gleam, and a face which, besides being beautiful from regularity of feature and richness of complexion, had the impressiveness belonging to a marked brow and deep black eyes. She was lady-like, too, after the manner of the feminine gentility of those days; characterized by a certain state and dignity, rather than by the delicate, evanescent, and indescribable grace, which is now recognized as its indication.” Pg 49
10. The flashback revealed that Hester used to live in poverty and had many memories that suddenly flooded back. There was one part about a man that was thin and old and had some sort of power over her soul, and that greatly affected her. “There she beheld another countenance, of a man well stricken in years, a pale, thin, scholar-like visage, with eyes dim and bleared by the lamp-light that had served them to pore over many ponderous books. Yet those same bleared optics had strange, penetrating power, when it was their owner’s purpose to read the human soul.” Pg 54
Chapter 3
1. The conversation between the townsman and the stranger at the beginning of this chapter serves as a cover up because the stranger, who was actually her husband and goes by Roger Chillingworth, didn’t want anyone to know that he knew who Hester was, so he asked this question to make it seem like they had no relation. “Then, touching the shoulder of a townsman who stood next to him, he addressed him in a formal and courteous manner. “I pray you, good Sir,” said he, “who is this woman?—and wherefore is she here set up to public shame?”” pg 56
2. Hester wasn’t sentenced to death for her adultery because she was young and pretty, and she probably lost her husband at sea, so they had mercy on her. “Now, good Sir, our Massachusetts magistracy, bethinking themselves that this woman is youthful and fair, and doubtless was strongly tempted to her fall;—and that, moreover, as is most likely, her husband may be at the bottom of the sea;—they have not been bold to put in force the extremity of our righteous law against her. The penalty thereof is death. But, in their great mercy and tenderness of heart, they have doomed Mistress Prynne to stand only a space of three hours on the platform of the pillory, and then and thereafter, for the remainder of her natural life, to wear a mark of shame upon her bosom.” Pg 57
3. The stranger has been at the marketplace, watching Hester. “At his arrival in the market-place, and some time before she saw him, the stranger had bent his eyes on Hester Prynne.” Pg 55 The motion he made to Hester was putting his hand to his lips to tell her to be quiet. “When he found the eyes of Hester Prynne fastened on his own, and saw that she appeared to recognize him, he slowly and calmly raised his finger, made a gesture with it in the air, and laid it on his lips.” Pg 56
4. Dimmsdale is the pastor of the church. “She hath raised a great scandal, I promise you, in godly Master Dimmesdale’s church.” Pg 56 Dimmsdale used an appeal to what is right and wrong in God’s eyes to convince Hester to reveal the baby’s father. “I charge thee to speak out the name of thy fellow-sinner and fellow-sufferer! Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life.” Pg 60
5. The stranger predicted that the name of the father would eventually be disclosed, which foreshadowed that the “stranger’s” identity would also eventually be disclosed. “But he will be known!—he will be known!—he will be known!” pg 58
6. Dimmesdale’s reaction to Hester’s refusal to name the father of her child was ironic because he seemingly tried so hard to get her to admit it, but he really didn’t want her saying it was him.“So powerful seemed the minister’s appeal, that the people could not believe but that Hester Prynne would speak out the guilty name; or else that the guilty one himself, in whatever high or lowly place he stood, would be drawn forth by an inward and inevitable necessity, and compelled to ascend the scaffold.” (Page 62)
7. The townsman told Chillingworth, “Of a truth friend, that matter remaineth a riddle; and the Daniel who shall expound it is yet a-wanting” pg 57 and by this he alluded that Daniel was a man in the bible who was hired to decode King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, and that they needed someone to be able to figure out what’s going on here like the way he did.
Chapter 4
1. The stranger Hester recognized in the crowd that afternoon turned out to be her husband, who now goes by Roger Chillingworth. “Live, therefore, and bear about thy doom with thee, in the eyes of men and women,—in the eyes of him whom thou didst call thy husband,—in the eyes of yonder child! And, that thou mayest live, take off this draught.” Pg 68
2. Hester fears Chillingworth because he was giving her and her child potion that he just made, and they could be dangerous, so she wasn’t sure if she could trust him, and was really skeptical about the potions. “I have thought of death,” said she,—“have wished for it,—would even have prayed for it, were it fit that such as I should pray for any thing. Yet, if death be in this cup, I bid thee think again, ere thou beholdest me quaff it. See! It is even now at my lips.” Pg 68
3. With the use of physiognomy, Hawthorne suggests by Chillingworth’s aged, deformed appearances that he would be a bad person because he’s ugly on the outside, so he might be as well on the inside. “…When I betrayed thy budding youth into a false and unnatural relation with my decay.” Pg 69
4. Chillingworht’s attitude toward Hester was compassionate and forgiving. He said that they both had done wrong things and didn’t seem to be seeking revenge on her.  “We have wronged each other,” answered he. “Mine was the first wrong, when I betrayed thy budding youth into a false and unnatural relation with my decay. Therefore, as a man who has not thought and philosophized in vain, I seek no vengeance, plot no evil against thee. Between thee and me, the scale hangs fairly balanced. But, Hester, the man lives who has wronged us both! Who is he?” pg 69
5. Chillingworth intends to find out who the father of her baby, Pearl, is. “Never know him! Believe me, Hester, there are few things,—whether in the outward world, or, to a certain depth, in the invisible sphere of thought,—few things hidden from the man, who devotes himself earnestly and unreservedly to the solution of a mystery. Thou mayest cover up thy secret from the prying multitude. Thou mayest conceal it, too, from the ministers and magistrates, even as thou didst this day, when they sought to wrench the name out of thy heart, and give thee a partner on thy pedestal. But, as for me, I come to the inquest with other senses than they possess. I shall seek this man, as I have sought truth in books” pg 70
6. Chillingworth asks Hester to promise not to tell anyone who he is “Thou hast kept the secret of thy paramour. Keep, likewise, mine! There are none in this land that know me. Breathe not, to any human soul, that thou didst ever call me husband! Here, on this wild outskirt of the earth…” pg 70 She agreed because he was her husband and he might have gotten punished.
7. Chillingworth’s and Hester’s exchange at the end of the chapter foreshadows that the agreement they made will cost someone their soul. “’Hast thou enticed me into a bond that will prove the ruin of my soul?’ ‘Not thy soul,’ he answered, with another smile. ‘No, not thine!’” pg 71
Chapter 5
1. Hester’s emergence from the prison at the end of her confinement was different from her emergence the day she stood in public humiliation because it was more torturous. At least before there were people pointing fingers at her and scolding her for the wrong she had done, but now she was a free woman and was allowed to step out into the sunshine of the beautiful day. “Perhaps there was a more real torture in her first unattended footsteps from the threshold of the prison, than even in the procession and spectacle that have been described, where she was made the common infamy, at which all mankind was summoned to point its finger. Then, she was supported by an unnatural tension of the nerves, and by all the combative energy of her character, which enabled her to convert the scene into a kind of lurid triumph.” Pg 72
2. Hester’s location was described as “On the outskirts of the town, within the verge of the peninsula, but not in close vicinity to any other habitation, there was a small thatched cottage.” Pg 74 The traditional dichotomy Hawthorne began to establish with the location of Hester’s cottage was how she wanted to stay a part of the colony that she was, in, but at the same time she didn’t want to. That’s why she did stay within the colony grounds, but she went to the far outskirts as to remove herself as much s possible without leaving completely. There is also the contrast between the fact that the people hated her, yet they needed her to sew things for her. Another contrast is that she could go to a place of freedom, but instead she chose to stay in Boston, where she’s neither wanted nor free.
3. Hester decided to stay within the colony because here she was rooted in a way; she had sinned there, and deserved to live out her punishment there. The second reason was because her lover, Dimmesdale was there. “Her sin, her ignominy, were the roots which she had struck into the soil. It was as if a new birth, with stronger assimilations than the first, had converted the forest-land, still so uncongenial to every other pilgrim and wanderer, into Hester Prynne’s wild and dreary, but life-long home” pg 73 “There dwelt, there trode the feet of one with whom she deemed herself connected in a union, that, unrecognized on earth, would bring them together before the bar of final judgment, and make that their marriage-altar, for a joint futurity of endless retribution. ” pg 74 “Here, she said to herself, had been the scene of her guilt, and here should be the scene of her earthly punishment” pg 74
4. The people in the town treated her in a way that reminded her that she was banished. “In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it. Every gesture, every word, and even the silence of those with whom she came in contact, implied, and often expressed, that she was banished,” pg 77 Hester reacted to this treatment by ignoring the comments, and praying for the people who were rude to her. “Hester had schooled herself long and well; she never responded to these attacks, save by a flush of crimson that rose irrepressibly over her pale cheek, and again subsided into the depths of her bosom. She was patient,—a martyr, indeed,—but she forbore to pray for her enemies; lest, in spite of her forgiving aspirations” pg 78
5. Hester’s character evolved because before, she had a weaker character, always letting people get a reaction about her, but now she doesn’t even react when they insult her and she doesn’t even care. The people in the town treated her in a way that reminded her that she was banished. “In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it. Every gesture, every word, and even the silence of those with whom she came in contact, implied, and often expressed, that she was banished,” pg 77
6. Hester’s clothing was made of rough materials and gloomy colors, where Pearl’s were made beautifully to show off her liveliness. “Her own dress was of the coarsest materials and the most sombre hue; with only that one ornament,—the scarlet letter,—which it was her doom to wear. The child’s attire, on the other hand, was distinguished by a fanciful, or, we might rather say, a fantastic ingenuity, which served, indeed, to heighten the airy charm that early began to develop itself in the little girl, but which appeared to have also a deeper meaning.” Pg 76
7. Hawthorne made the point that an individual has a hard time separating oneself from one’s wrongdoing, and it’s like the wrongdoing has already burnt itself into the person. Hester could never get rid of the scarlet letter, and she could never get rid of the guilty feeling. “They averred, that the symbol was not mere scarlet cloth, tinged in an earthly dye-pot, but was red-hot with infernal fire, and could be seen glowing all alight, whenever Hester Prynne walked abroad in the night-time.” Pg 81
8. Hawthorne’s sympathies lie with Hester because he describes how terrible her life was, and that she feels really bad about it all, and everyone treats her poorly. Her life was in anguish, and he felt sorry for her. “Her imagination was somewhat affected, and, had she been of a softer moral and intellectual fibre, would have been still more so, by the strange and solitary anguish of her life.” Pg 79
Chapter 6
1. The irony in Pearl’s existence is that she is such a beautiful and pure child, but she came out of a despicable, immoral being—Hester. “We have as yet hardly spoken of the infant; that little creature, whose innocent life had sprung, by the inscrutable decree of Providence, a lovely and immortal flower, out of the rank luxuriance of a guilty passion. How strange it seemed to the sad woman, as she watched the growth, and the beauty that became every day more brilliant, and the intelligence that threw its quivering sunshine over the tiny features of this child!” pg 82
2. The significance of Pearl’s name is that she is something beautiful that had come at a great price. She cost her mother’s virtue, which was all she really had. “Her Pearl!—For so had Hester called her; not as a name expressive of her aspect, which had nothing of the calm, white, unimpassioned lustre that would be indicated by the comparison. But she named the infant “Pearl,” as being of great price,—purchased with all she had,—her mother’s only treasure!” pg 82
3. Pearl’s temperament was significant because she had the temperament of her mother when she was being conceived. She couldn’t follow rules, in the same way that she was born because of broken rules. “The child could not be made amenable to rules. In giving her existence, a great law had been broken; and the result was a being, whose elements were perhaps beautiful and brilliant, but all in disorder; or with an order peculiar to themselves, amidst which the point of variety and arrangement was difficult or impossible to be discovered. Hester could only account for the child’s character—and even then, most vaguely and imperfectly—by recalling what she herself had been, during that momentous period while Pearl was imbibing her soul from the spiritual world, and her bodily frame from its material of earth.” page 83
4. Pearl’s personality came with a touch of ambiguity to reflect the ambiguity of her background. It was said that she had more than one personality and was ever changing, in a similar way that the scarlet letter, A, could have more than one meaning, and also reflecting the ambiguity about how she came upon living on this earth. “Pearl’s aspect was imbued with a spell of infinite variety; in this one child there were many children, comprehending the full scope between the wild-flower prettiness of a peasant-baby, and the pomp, in little, of an infant princess.” Pg 83
5. Hester explained to Pearl that her existence came from her heavenly father, and that everyone, including her was sent from God. ““Thy Heavenly Father sent thee!” answered Hester Prynne.” Pg 90 

Chapter 7
1. The townspeople were genuinely concerned about the souls of Hester and Pearl because they really wanted both on their way to salvation. They thought that giving Pearl to someone else would benefit both people, so that’s how they wanted to help. “On the supposition that Pearl, as already hinted, was of demon origin, these good people not unreasonably argued that a Christian interest in the mother’s soul required them to remove such a stumbling-block from her path. If the child, on the other hand, were really capable of moral and religious growth, and possessed the elements of ultimate salvation, then, surely, it would enjoy all the fairer prospect of these advantages by being transferred to wiser and better guardianship than Hester Prynne’s. ” pg 92
2. The governor’s garden was badly kept in comparison to the gardens in Old England. It was decaying, and only cabbages, pumpkins, and a few rosebushes were growing there. This implies that the English principles and ideals of the old world, can’t be successfully transplanted to America. “But the proprietor appeared already to have relinquished, as hopeless, the effort to perpetuate on this side of the Atlantic, in a hard soil and amid the close struggle for subsistence, the native English taste for ornamental gardening. Cabbages grew in plain sight; and a pumpkin vine, rooted at some distance, had run across the intervening space, and deposited one of its gigantic products directly beneath the hall-window; as if to warn the Governor that this great lump of vegetable gold was as rich an ornament as New England earth would offer him. There were a few rose-bushes, however, and a number of apple-trees, probably the descendants of those planted by the Reverend Mr. Blackstone, the first settler of the peninsula; that half-mythological personage who rides through our early annals, seated on the back of a bull.” Pg 98
3. Pearl is wearing a red dress with cold stitching and is compared to the scarlet letter on her mother’s dress. “Her mother, in contriving the child’s garb, had allowed the gorgeous tendencies of her imagination their full play; arraying her in a crimson velvet tunic, of a peculiar cut, abundantly embroidered with fantasies and flourishes of gold thread. …But it was a remarkable attribute of this garb, and, indeed, of the child’s whole appearance, that it irresistibly and inevitably reminded the beholder of the token which Hester Prynne was doomed to wear upon her bosom. It was the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed with life!” pg 93
4. The other place in the novel that a rosebush appeared was outside the prison in the beginning of the story. “But, on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rose-bush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him.” Pg 44
5. Then, the rosebush symbolized hope. The Puritans in combination with Hester’s own wrongs had made a big ugly mess out of her life, and the decrepit prison symbolized that, but amidst all of this crappiness there was a beautiful rosebush which showed that something beautiful could come from something ugly “…in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him.” Pg 44

6. The rosebush in this chapter is also in the middle of an ugly place. The garden it is in is amidst a lot of dead plants, but this rosebush is beautiful and prospering. It is similar to the one next to the prison in that way and also shows that there is always something pure, like hope. Pearl is compared to the rosebush when she meets Governor Bellingham, because she is the pure thing that came from sin. “There were a few rose-bushes, however, and a number of apple-trees, probably the descendants of those planted by the Reverend Mr. Blackstone, the first settler of the peninsula” pg 98
Chapter 8
1. The puritan attitude toward luxury is that it’s not necessary, but this is a contradiction to the Governor because he was dressed really well, and showing off his luxurious house which is the opposite of the puritan beliefs.  “Governor Bellingham, in a loose gown and easy cap,—such as elderly gentlemen loved to indue themselves with, in their domestic privacy,—walked foremost, and appeared to be showing off his estate, and expatiating on his projected improvements. The wide circumference of an elaborate ruff, beneath his gray beard, in the antiquated fashion of King James’s reign, caused his head to look not a little like that of John the Baptist in a charger.” Pg 100
2. The magistrates react to Pearl like she is a very interesting child. They compare her to elves or fairies, and are shocked by the clothing she wears. They didn’t yet know she was Hester’s child, so they just thought of her as an innocent lost kid. ““Ay, indeed!” cried good old Mr. Wilson. “What little bird of scarlet plumage may this be? Methinks I have seen just such figures, when the sun has been shining through a richly painted window, and tracing out the golden and crimson images across the floor. But that was in the old land. Prithee, young one, who art thou, and what has ailed thy mother to bedizen thee in this strange fashion? Art thou a Christian child,—ha? Dost know thy catechism? Or art thou one of those naughty elfs or fairies, whom we thought to have left behind us, with other relics of Papistry, in merry old England?”” pg 101
3. Hester acts calmly towards the magistrates because she wants to be able to keep her daughter. This only lasted in the beginning, because later on when they weren’t really going in the direction of letting her keep Pearl, she turned manic and crazy while pleading to keep her child. ““Nevertheless,” said the mother calmly, though growing more pale, “this badge hath taught me,—it daily teaches me,—it is teaching me at this moment,—lessons whereof my child may be the wiser and better, albeit they can profit nothing to myself.”” Pg 102
4. Hester feels that Dimmesdale should speak on her behalf because he was her pastor, and he knows her heart better than the other men who are making the decision. “And here, by a sudden impulse, she turned to the young clergyman, Mr. Dimmesdale, at whom, up to this moment, she had seemed hardly so much as once to direct her eyes.—“Speak thou for me!” cried she. “Thou wast my pastor, and hadst charge of my soul, and knowest me better than these men can. I will not lose the child! Speak for me! Thou knowest,—for thou hast sympathies which these men lack!—thou knowest what is in my heart, and what are a mother’s rights, and how much the stronger they are, when that mother has but her child and the scarlet letter! Look thou to it! I will not lose the child! Look to it!”” pg 105
5. Hawthorne had pearl perform such an uncharacteristically tender action to show that she really appreciated what the young minister Dimmsdale did for her. “Pearl, that wild and flighty little elf, stole softly towards him, and, taking his hand in the grasp of both her own, laid her cheek against it; a caress so tender, and withal so unobtrusive, that her mother, who was looking on, asked herself,—“Is that my Pearl?”” pg 107
6. Chillingworth noticed that Dimmsdale had such force and conviction in his speech about letting Hester keep her baby. ““You speak, my friend, with a strange earnestness,” said old Roger Chillingworth, smiling at him.” Pg 106
7. Dimmsdale has changed sinc Hester’s public punishment because at that time, he scolded her infront of everyone and said she was doing everything wrong, but now he is saying that she is doing the right thing with her daughter. He also said that God’s will goes along with Hester’s plan, which is the opposite of what he said at the public punishment scene. “This child of its father’s guilt and its mother’s shame hath come from the hand of God, to work in many ways upon her heart, who pleads so earnestly, and with such bitterness of spirit, the right to keep her.” Pg 105
8. Chillingworth changed over the last few years by growing old and getting uglier. “Hester Prynne looked at the man of skill, and even then, with her fate hanging in the balance, was startled to perceive what a change had come over his features,—how much uglier they were,—how his dark complexion seemed to have grown duskier, and his figure more misshapen,—since the days when she had familiarly known him.” Pg 104
9. Physiognomy suggests that Chillingworth has become more malevolent and meaner because of the state that his face is now in, and that since Dimmsdale is still young and handsome looking, he is a generally kind person. “Hester Prynne looked at the man of skill, and even then, with her fate hanging in the balance, was startled to perceive what a change had come over his features,—how much uglier they were,—how his dark complexion seemed to have grown duskier, and his figure more misshapen,—since the days when she had familiarly known him.” Pg 104
10. The author included Mistress Hibbins as a minor character because since she was executed as a witch later on, it showed that there are hidden evils in Puritan society, and that even the Governor’s life has evil in it. “As they descended the steps, it is averred that the lattice of a chamber-window was thrown open, and forth into the sunny day was thrust the face of Mistress Hibbins, Governor Bellingham’s bitter-tempered sister, and the same who, a few years later, was executed as a witch.” Page 108
Chapter 9
1. Chillingworth doesn’t assert his rights as Hester’s husband because he didn’t want to be associated with someone who had such a bad standing in society, so he pretended to be someone else. “Under the appellation of Roger Chillingworth, the reader will remember, was hidden another name, which its former wearer had resolved should never more be spoken. ” pg 109
2. Dimmsdale’s health is declining, and people have different opinions about the reason behind this decline. The townspeople believe it is because he is very devoted to his work and that is why he has been becoming weak, but he knows it is because his sin is taking a toll on him physically as well as mentally. “About this period, however, the health of Mr. Dimmesdale had evidently begun to fail. By those best acquainted with his habits, the paleness of the young minister’s cheek was accounted for by his too earnest devotion to study, his scrupulous fulfilment of parochial duty, and, more than all, by the fasts and vigils of which he made a frequent practices in order to keep the grossness of this earthly state from clogging and obscuring his spiritual lamp.” Pg 110
3. Dimmsdale rejected Chillingworth’s offer to help because he thought he didn’t need any, but eventually accepted because the elders told him it would be like rejecting God’s help. “These questions were solemnly propounded to Mr. Dimmesdale by the elder ministers of Boston and the deacons of his church, who, to use their own phrase, “dealt with him” on the sin of rejecting the aid which Providence so manifestly held out. He listened in silence, and finally promised to confer with the physician.” Pg 113
4. The title of the Chapter is “The Leech” which has an ambiguity factor. The leech could refer to the physical leeches used by doctors since this chapter was about doctors, or it could refer to Chillingworth himself. He was being a leech because he was sucking out every bit of information from Dimmesdale in order to help him out, and later find his secret. “So Roger Chillingworth—the man of skill, the kind and friendly physician—strove to go deep into his patient’s bosom, delving among his principles, prying into his recollections, and probing every thing with a cautious touch, like a treasure-seeker in a dark cavern. Few secrets can escape an investigator, who has opportunity and license to undertake such a quest, and skill to follow it up. A man burdened with a secret should especially avoid the intimacy of his physician. ” page 115
5. Dimmsdale was described as a very devoted priest, and generally a good man. The opposite of him was Chillingworth who was described to know how to extract any secret from a man. He used his tricky doctor ways to get inside a man’s head and get him to admit anything, and used this deceptive trick on Dimmsdale. “A man burdened with a secret should especially avoid the intimacy of his physician. If the latter possess native sagacity, and a nameless something more,—let us call it intuition; if he show no intrusive egotism, nor disagreeably prominent characteristics of his own; if he have the power, which must be born with him, to bring his mind into such affinity with his patient’s, that this last shall unawares have spoken what he imagines himself only to have thought; if such revelations be received without tumult, and acknowledged not so often by an uttered sympathy, as by silence, an inarticulate breath, and here and there a word, to indicate that all is understood; if, to these qualifications of a confidant be joined the advantages afforded by his recognized character as a physician;—then, at some inevitable moment, will the soul of the sufferer be dissolved, and flow forth in a dark, but transparent stream, bringing all its mysteries into the daylight.” Pg 115
6. Chillingworth’s method for treating illness was by using natural herbs that he learned how to use when he was captured. “In his Indian captivity, moreover, he had gained much knowledge of the properties of native herbs and roots; nor did he conceal from his patients, that these simple medicines, Nature’s boon to the untutored savage, had quite as large a share of his own confidence as the European pharmacopœia, which so many learned doctors had spent centuries in elaborating.” Pg. 110
7. Dimmesdale is now Chillingworth’s spiritual guide. They even started living together. “This learned stranger was exemplary, as regarded at least the outward forms of a religious life, and, early after his arrival, had chosen for his spiritual guide the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale. The young divine, whose scholar-like renown still lived in Oxford, was considered by his more fervent admirers as little less than a Heaven-ordained apostle, destined, should he live and labor for the ordinary term of life, to do as great deeds for the now feeble New England Church, as the early Fathers had achieved for the infancy of the Christian faith.” Pg 111
8. The other view about Chillingworth is that he was evil, and bad for Dimmesdale. They believed that he was associated to a murder, and that he was not even close to God-sent. “The people, in the case of which we speak, could justify its prejudice against Roger Chillingworth by no fact or argument worthy of serious refutation. There was an aged handicraftsman, it is true, who had been a citizen of London at the period of Sir Thomas Overbury’s murder, now some thirty years agone; he testified to having seen the physician, under some other name, which the narrator of the story had now forgotten, in company with Doctor Forman, the famous old conjurer, who was implicated in the affair of Overbury. Two or three individuals hinted, that the man of skill, during his Indian captivity, had enlarged his medical attainments by joining in the incantations of the savage priests; who were universally acknowledged to be powerful enchanters, often performing seemingly miraculous cures by their skill in the black art.” Pg 118
9. The people explained the gloom and terror in the depths of the poor minister’s eyes to be because he was possessed. They thought he had been possessed because he’s been with Chillingworth so much lately, and they thought Chillingworth had learned some evil spells from the Indians who had captured him. “According to the vulgar idea, the fire in his laboratory had been brought from the lower regions, and was fed with infernal fuel; and so, as might be expected, his visage was getting sooty with the smoke.” pg 118
10. The characters’ names tell us a little bit about the character, in the same way their physical appearance does. Hawthorne implies that Chillingworth is cold, (the Chilling part of his name sounds like something is chilly or cold), which fits his role as the antagonist. He also became uglier as the people started to believe that he was evil. Dimmesdale is dim, (not very smart) because he is indecisive, and he looks really weak and worn-down because his character is weak, and not strong enough to own up to his own mistakes. “Now, there was something ugly and evil in his face, which they had not previously noticed” pg 118
Chapter 10
1. Dimmesdale acts suspicious in his conversation with Chillingworth about sin because he takes the positions that the person who died without admitting his sin could have had a reason that he couldn’t admit it, and kept defending that position. ““Perchance,” said Mr. Dimmesdale, “he earnestly desired it, but could not.”” Pg 122
2. The black flowers/herbs initiated a discussion on hidden sins because Chillingworth suggested that since he found them growing on a grave, the weeds could have been growing there in the man’s remembrance. He said they grew out of the dead person’s heart because he had a terrible secret that he had hidden all his life, and taken to the grave. “Even in the grave-yard, here at hand,” answered the physician, continuing his employment. “They are new to me. I found them growing on a grave, which bore no tombstone, nor other memorial of the dead man, save these ugly weeds that have taken upon themselves to keep him in remembrance. They grew out of his heart, and typify, it may be, some hideous secret that was buried with him, and which he had done better to confess during his lifetime.” Pg 122
3. Dimmsdale’s rationale for the confessing a hidden sin supports the doctrine of salvation by works rather than salvation by faith because he is saying that people should do things, particularly repent and confess their sins, in order to be able to go to heaven. Having to do things to get God’s approval supports the doctrine of salvation by works. “But, if they seek to glorify God, let them not lift heavenward their unclean hands!” pg 123
4. Through metaphors, Chillingworth is described as similar to a miner digging for gold or a grave-digger digging for treasures. In both examples, he is someone digging for something, but he is not likely to find anything. This reflects on Chillingworth’s character. It shows that he is determined to find out Dimmesdale’s secret and that he is becoming more obsessed with finding his “gold”. “He now dug into the poor clergyman's heart, like a miner searching for gold; or, rather, like a sexton delving into a grave,
possibly in quest of a jewel that had been buried on the dead man's bosom, but likely to find nothing save mortality and corruption.” Pg 120
5. Chillingworth said, “A strange sympathy betwixt soul and body! Were it only for the art’s sake, I must search this matter to the bottom!” (pg 128) By that he meant that there was a strange bond between Dimmesdale’s soul and body that he wanted to figure out. Even if it was only for fun, he now really wanted to get to the bottom of this mystery.
6. While Dimmesdale was sleeping, Chillingworth but his hand on his chest, and then pushed aside the robe that covered his chest. This action represents Chillingworth’s character because he investigated Dimmesdale while he was sleeping instead of when he was awake and conscious of what was going on, which is tricky and sneaky, like the type of person Chillingworth is. He reacted shocked and joyfully after he saw what was on his chest. “But with what a wild look of wonder, joy, and horror! With what a
ghastly rapture, as it were, too mighty to be expressed only by the eye and features, and therefore bursting forth through the whole ugliness of his figure, and making itself even riotously manifest by the extravagant gestures with which he threw up his arms towards the ceiling, and stamped his foot upon the floor!” pg 129
7. I suppose Chillingworth found something that would connect Dimmesdale to Hester. Because he was so joyful, and his mission was to find out who Pearl’s father was, I’m assuming that this has something to do with his search.
Chapter 11
1. This statement, “He became, thenceforth, not a spectator only, but a chief actor, in the poor minister’s interior world.” Means that after Chillingworth found out Dimmesdale’s secret, he could now influence his life. He could manipulate him any way he wanted, making him feel guilty, without Dimmesdale knowing. He wasn’t only observing Dimmesdale’s life, but influencing it now.  pg 130
2. Dimmesdale’s incredible success as a minister is ironic because he has been hiding a terrible secret that goes against what he preaches, yet everyone thinks he is a holy man. “They deemed the young clergyman a miracle of holiness. They fancied him the mouth-piece of Heaven’s messages of wisdom, and rebuke, and love. In their eyes, the very ground on which he trod was sanctified.” Pg 133
3. Dimmesdale’s public assertions of guilt are ironic because he told everyone who was listening to him that he was a vile person and that he deserved to be punished, but all it did was make the people revere him more. They praised him for what he did with the intention of making them dislike him. “He had told his hearers that he was altogether vile, a viler companion of the vilest, the worst of sinners, an abomination, a thing of unimaginable iniquity; and that the only wonder was, that they did not see his wretched body shrivelled up before their eyes, by the burning wrath of the Almighty! Could there be plainer speech than this? Would not the people start up in their seats, by a simultaneous impulse, and tear him down out of the pulpit which he defiled? Not so, indeed! They heard it all, and did but reverence him the more.” Pg 134
4. Reverend Dimmesdale tortured himself in more than on way for his sin. He did this mentally and physically. He was always thinking of himself as such a terrible person, thinking things like how grass probably wouldn’t grow on his grave because of how terrible a person he was. He also tortured himself by whipping his own shoulders. He fasted until he was feeling week, and was constantly dwelling on his sin. “In Mr. Dimmesdale’s secret closet, under lock and key, there was a bloody scourge. Oftentimes, this Protestant and Puritan divine had plied it on his own shoulders; laughing bitterly at himself the while, and smiting so much the more pitilessly, because of that bitter laugh.” Pg 135
5.After comparing Dimmesdale’s current struggle with his sin to Hester’s earlier treatment and her sin, it is apparent that Hawthorne is trying to convey something about the effects of sin. Hester was looked down upon and treated badly by everyone in society. She did not feel sorry for herself about her treatment because deep down she knew she deserved it. She was guilty, and kept thinking about the sin, and knew she had done something wrong, therefore she deserved punishment. Dimmesdale is the same way, he acknowledges his sin, and is extremely introspective; always thinking about what he did wrong. He tortures and punishes himself and dwells on his mistake. Hawthorne is trying to say that sin is a terrible thing that once it’s done, it can’t be undone and it can destroy a person. Sin also causes guilt that is hard to deal with, but it can also change a person for the better.  “The only truth, that continued to give Mr. Dimmesdale a real existence on this earth, was the anguish in his inmost soul, and the undissembled expression of it in his aspect.” Pg 136
6. Puritan society is supposed to be a perfect utopia. They have strict religious rules and train everyone to do everything according to what God says, however, it’s ironic that as soon as the town was being built, they made a prison for anyone who disobeyed their rules. That by itself shows that the society is not perfect. Also, the fact that the Governor’s sister is a witch, and the reverend had an adulterous affair with a woman and had a child born out of wedlock, shows that Puritan society is really messed up. They strived to be a perfect community with perfect people, but that is not possible. Everyone sins and messes up, and perfection in a person’s life is not possible. That is Hawthorne’s developing theme.
Chapter 12
1. The episode of Dimmesdale’s midnight vigil on the scaffold was significant because that was the place where Hester had been publicly humiliated. He felt what she felt when she was up there, minus the crowd of judgmental people. “Dimmesdale was overcome with a great horror of mind, as if the universe were gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart. On that spot…there was a poisonous tooth of bodily pain” pg 138
2. Pearl’s challenge to Dimesdale to hold her and her mother’s hand tomorrow on the scaffolding was significant because it further exposes him as a guilty man who won’t take public responsibility for his actions. He told her he would never in the public eye because he is a coward. ““Wilt thou stand here with mother and me, to-morrow noontide?” inquired Pearl.” Pg 142
3. The significance of the meteor event was that it happened while Dimmesdale was refusing to stand on the platform with Hester and Pearl in the daylight at noon the next day for everyone to see. The meteor light up the sky like as if it was noon and shed the amount of light that would have been there in the day. It represented coming out to the community and showing everyone his sin, which he had just refused to do. “But, before Mr. Dimmesdale had done speaking, a light gleamed far and wide over all the muffled sky. It was doubtless caused by one of those meteors, which the night-watcher may so often observe burning out to waste, in the vacant regions of the atmosphere. So powerful was its radiance, that it thoroughly illuminated the dense medium of cloud betwixt the sky and earth. The great vault brightened, like the dome of an immense lamp. It showed the familiar scene of the street, with the distinctness of mid-day, but also with the awfulness that is always imparted to familiar objects by an unaccustomed light.” Pg 143
4. Hawthorne chose the night Governor Winthrop died as the night Dimmesdale stands on the scaffold with Hester and Pearl because he wanted to show that Puritan society had faults once again. They had been reading signs of the sky for ages, trying to figure out what they meant and represented, and this night, there was a big A in the sky that was decided to have represented Angel because it was seen the night Winthrop died. Dimmesdale believed that the letter was for him and represented his sin, but if everyone sees the letter, is it really only for one person? It could mean anything for anyone. “We impute it, therefore, solely to the disease in his own eye and heart, that the minister, looking upward to the zenith, beheld there the appearance of an immense letter,—the letter A,—marked out in lines of dull red light.” Pg 145 ““And, since Satan saw fit to steal it, your reverence must needs handle him without gloves, henceforward,” remarked the old sexton, grimly smiling. “But did your reverence hear of the portent that was seen last night? A great red letter in the sky,—the letter A,—which we interpret to stand for Angel. For, as our good Governor Winthrop was made an angel this past night, it was doubtless held fit that there should be some notice thereof!”” pg 147
5. Dimmesdale felt dread of public exposure, along with joy while holding Pearl’s hand. He felt like there was electricity flowing from Hester to Pearl to him through their linked hands. He felt this way because he was standing where he belonged, on the platform, and with whom he belonged, and that was what he needed to do. It was almost as if he was admitting his sin, and it was a powerful moment. “With the new energy of the moment, all the dread of public exposure, that had so long been the anguish of his life, had returned upon him; and he was already trembling at the conjunction in which—with a strange joy, nevertheless—he now found himself.” Pg 142
6. The first time Pearl pulled away from Dimmesdale was when she asked him to stand on the platform with her and her mother the next day and he refused, and the second time when she actually succeeded in pulling away was when she withdrew her hand to point at Chillingworth who was approaching them. “She withdrew her hand from Mr. Dimmesdale’s, and pointed across the street. But he clasped both his hands over his breast, and cast his eyes towards the zenith.” Pg 144
7. The effect that the vigil had on Dimmesdale’s career is that it was making his sermons stronger. This one had been so effective that it had saved many souls. By dwelling on, and recognizing his sin, it had helped him see how wrong sin was, which made his sermons stronger. “The next day, however, being the Sabbath, he preached a discourse which was held to be the richest and most powerful, and the most replete with heavenly influences, that had ever proceeded from his lips. Souls, it is said, more souls than one, were brought to the truth by the efficacy of that sermon, and vowed within themselves to cherish a holy gratitude towards Mr. Dimmesdale throughout the long hereafter.” Pg 147
Chapter 13
1. The general public had a sense of respect for Hester now that it was a few years later and she had served her punishment gracefully. “As is apt to be the case when a person stands out in any prominence before the community, and, at the same time, interferes neither with public nor individual interests and convenience, a species of general regard had ultimately grown up in reference to Hester Prynne.” Page 149
2. The general public had forgiven her and started acting kind towards her, but the community leaders had taken longer to forgive her. They had prejudices formed towards her that were harder to get out of their heads, so they were taking longer to forgive her.  “The rulers, and the wise and learned men of the community, were longer in acknowledging the influence of Hester’s good qualities than the people. The prejudices which they shared in common with the latter were fortified in themselves by an iron framework of reasoning, that made it a far tougher labor to expel them. Day by day, nevertheless, their sour and rigid wrinkles were relaxing into something which, in the due course of years, might grow to be an expression of almost benevolence. Thus it was with the men of rank, on whom their eminent position imposed the guardianship of the public morals.” Pg 151
3. In this chapter, Hawthorne described the social change of forgiveness. The common people as well as the community leaders had forgiven or started the forgiveness process towards Hester. As for philosophical changes, the people now believed that Hester’s sin was a blessing in disguise, and that it had led to many good deeds afterwards. “Day by day, nevertheless, their sour and rigid wrinkles were relaxing into something which, in the due course of years, might grow to be an expression of almost benevolence.” Pg 151 “They had begun to look upon the scarlet letter as the token, not of that one sin, for which she had borne so long and dreary a penance, but of her many good deeds since. Pg 151”
4. “It is remarkable, that persons who speculate the most boldly often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulations of society. The thought suffices them, without investing itself in the flesh and blood of action.” Pg 153 This quote is basically saying that it is ironic that the world’s most bold thinkers often end up being the really quiet people in society. In Hester’s case, she always had bold thoughts and wasn’t afraid of them, but because of Pearl, she held back from doing anything daring.
5. The initial intent of the Scarlet letter was to stand for Adulterous. This was the label that would describe Hester because of her actions. It was supposed to be a punishment that made Hester remember what she had done wrong, but instead of Hester dwelling on her sin, she had a positive outlook on life. She would give money to the less fortunate, and sew them clothing to help them out. She was very helpful in society, which had caused the meaning of the letter to change from Adultury to Able. It described her new self better with that adjective. “Such helpfulness was found in her,—so much power to do, and power to sympathize,—that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength.” Pg 150
6. Hester resolved to help free Dimmesdale from the clutch or Roger Chillingworth. She no longer felt that she was no match against the man, and knew that he was destroying her lover, so she decided she was going to do something about it. “She determined to redeem her error, so far as it might yet be possible. Strengthened by years of hard and solemn trial, she felt herself no longer so inadequate to cope with Roger Chillingworth as on that night, abased by sin, and half-maddened by the ignominy that was still new, when they had talked together in the prison-chamber.” Pg 155
7. Hawthorne’s point in comparing Hester’s and Dimmesdale’s reactions to their sin was to show how sin destroyed a person. Because Hester’s sin had been publicly acknowledged and she had been punished for it, it was a sort of relief to her. She was able to reflect on it and allow the experience to make her a better person. Dimmesdale on the other hand was on the verge of going crazy, which shows that if you don’t confess your sins, you will still suffer, but it will be an internal suffering.  “She saw that he stood on the verge of lunacy, if he had not already stepped across it.” Pg 155
8. The image of Chillingworth digging up roots and leaves in the forest represents evil and the devil. The way his body had started decaying and his face had gotten uglier and uglier reflects upon his ugly personality. Also, in puritan society, the forest represented the devil, so the fact that he was in the forest collecting roots, similar to the way a witch would, shows that he is in some way like a devil. “One afternoon, walking with Pearl in a retired part of the peninsula, she beheld the old physician, with a basket on one arm, and a staff in the other hand, stooping along the ground, in quest of roots and herbs to concoct his medicines withal.” Pg 156
Chapter 14
1. Chillingworth is called a leech in the chapters where he interacts with Dimmesdale because leeches are insects that live off of other people, and suck blood from them which is a representation of how he treats Dimmesdale. Chillingworth sucked out information from Dimmesdale and thrived off of his guilt and self-hate. In the chapters where Chillingworth interacts with Hester, he is called a physician because it shows the other side of him—he is helpful when it comes to treating patient, but he also has a dark “leech” side.
2. Hester responded to the announcement that the council debated allowing her to remove her scarlet letter by saying that they can’t decide that it is time for the letter to go. If she was worthy to get rid of it, then it would fall off by itself. ““It lies not in the pleasure of the magistrates to take off this badge,” calmly replied Hester. “Were I worthy to be quit of it, it would fall away of its own nature, or be transformed into something that should speak a different purport.”” Pg 158
3. Anti-transcendentalists, as opposed to positive transcendentalists , believed that all humans were evil, bitter, and sinful, and therefore, they can’t be forgiven. Humans are dark creatures and don’t deserve forgiveness.
4. The doctrine of predestination is reflected in the conversation between Hester and Chillingworth because when Hester is asking Chillingworth to allow her to tell Dimmesdale that Chillingworth was her husband, she tells him that he should leave further punishment up to God. This is alluding to judgement day, and she is saying that something is going to happen after death, and it is only for God to decide. “Forgive, and leave his further retribution to the Power that claims it!” pg 162
5. Chillingworth believes that he has a double reason for punishing Dimmesdale because he wanted revenge on the man who had committed adultery with his own wife, and he believed that he deserved some sort of punishment like the scarlet letter Hester had to wear, but since he never got that, he deserved more suffering. “For, Hester, his spirit lacked the strength that could have borne up, as thine has, beneath a burden like thy scarlet letter.” Pg 160
6. Hester asked Chilligworth if he would allow her to break her previous promise with him saying that she wouldn’t tell Dimmesdale who Chillingworth was. She told him that the scarlet letter has taught her to be truthful, so she must tell him. Chillingworth told her to do what she will. ““I must reveal the secret,” answered Hester, firmly. “He must discern thee in thy true character. What may be the result, I know not. But this long debt of confidence, due from me to him, whose bane and ruin I have been, shall at length be paid. So far as concerns the overthrow or preservation of his fair fame and his earthly state, and perchance his life, he is in thy hands. Nor do I,—whom the scarlet letter has disciplined to truth, though it be the truth of red-hot iron, entering into the soul,—nor do I perceive such advantage in his living any longer a life of ghastly emptiness, that I shall stoop to implore thy mercy.” Pg 161
7. Hester’s plea to tell Dimmesdale who Chillingworth is aroused sympathy and admiration in Chillingworth because she begged to be able to tell him the truth, which is one thing she had learned from the scarlet letter. He realized that Hester was becoming such a pure soul since the scarlet letter, and admired that of her. “Nor do I,—whom the scarlet letter has disciplined to truth, though it be the truth of red-hot iron, entering into the soul,—nor do I perceive such advantage in his living any longer a life of ghastly emptiness, that I shall stoop to implore thy mercy.” Pg 161
Chapter 15
1. Hester came to realize that the worst sin she committed was allowing herself to marry Chillingworth and hold his hand and let their smiles melt together. She considered this worse than her sin with Dimmesdale because she didn’t love Chillingworth and she had faked her emotions. “She marvelled how she could ever have been wrought upon to marry him! She deemed it her crime most to be repented of, that she had ever endured, and reciprocated, the lukewarm grasp of his hand, and had suffered the smile of her lips and eyes to mingle and melt into his own.” Pg 165
2. Hester realized that her “repentance” wasn’t actually genuine, and even after her seven years of suffering, she never really repented. “Had seven long years, under the torture of the scarlet letter, inflicted so much of misery, and wrought out no repentance?” pg 165
3. Hester hates Chillingworth because he betrayed her, which she believes is worse than what she had done to him. ““Yes, I hate him!” repeated Hester, more bitterly than before. “He betrayed me! He has done me worse wrong than I did him!”” pg 165
4. Hester refused to answer Pearl’s question about the meaning of the “A” because Pearl has been compared to a living symbol of the A. Hester doesn’t want to acknowledge that it’s true, and she doesn’t believe that Pearl would understand the situation even if she did explain it to her. “In all the seven bygone years, Hester Prynne had never before been false to the symbol on her bosom. It may be that it was the talisman of a stern and severe, but yet a guardian spirit, who now forsook her; as recognizing that, in spite of his strict watch over her heart, some new evil had crept into it, or some old one had never been expelled. As for little Pearl, the earnestness soon passed out of her face.” Pg 170
5. Pearl is portrayed as such a wild child because she represents the scarlet letter and Hester’s sin which was considered crazy in puritan society. She had broken a big rule, which is represented in Pearl’s crazy personality. “One little gray bird, with a white breast, Pearl was almost sure, had been hit by a pebble and fluttered away with a broken wing. But then the elf-child sighed, and gave up her sport; because it grieved her to have done harm to a little being that was as wild as the sea-breeze, or as wild as Pearl herself.” Pg 166
6. Talking to Chillingworth and Pearl has changed her attitude toward herself and her sin. She realized how ashamed of her sin she was, so much that she was angered when Pearl kept asking her to explain what the A meant, but also she realized how much she hates Chillingworth and regrets marrying him more than her infidelity. She is not even sure if she has genuinely repented of her sin because she really loved Dimmesdale. “Had seven long years, under the torture of the scarlet letter, inflicted so much of misery, and wrought out no repentance?” pg 165
Chapter 16
1. The significance of the sunlight imagery is that sunlight represents goodness and purity, but since Hester’s life is full of sin and evil, the light evades her.  ““Mother,” said little Pearl, “the sunshine does not love you. It runs away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something on your bosom. Now, see! There it is, playing, a good way off. Stand you here, and let me run and catch it. I am but a child. It will not flee from me; for I wear nothing on my bosom yet!”” pg 172
2. Their meeting had to take place in the forest because the darkness represented Hester’s moral wilderness which means the way her morals had gone astray. They couldn’t meet in the light because they were hiding a great sin, and the forest represented sin. “This hemmed it in so narrowly, and stood so black and dense on either side, and disclosed such imperfect glimpses of the sky above, that, to Hester’s mind, it imaged not amiss the moral wilderness in which she had so long been wandering.” Page 172
*3. I think (I’m not really sure) that needing the whole world to breathe in while they talked together meant that Hester and Dimmesdale couldn’t just talk anywhere, but they needed to go somewhere out in the open of nature, somewhere there was space to breathe, where they would be away from puritan society. “But, partly that she dreaded the secret or undisguised interference of old Roger Chillingworth, and partly that her conscious heart imputed suspicion where none could have been felt, and partly that both the minister and she would need the whole wide world to breathe in, while they talked together,—for all these reasons, Hester never thought of meeting him in any narrower privacy than beneath the open sky.” Pg 171
4. The positive significance that the forest begins to take on is hope for Pearl. She was able to stand in the sunlight, and almost absorb it according to Hester, where Hester couldn’t even stick her hand into it before it went away. This showed that although there was sin in Hester’s life, Pearl was still pure and had a whole optimistic life ahead of her. “Pearl set forth, at a great pace, and, as Hester smiled to perceive, did actually catch the sunshine, and stood laughing in the midst of it, all brightened by its splendor, and scintillating with the vivacity excited by rapid motion. The light lingered about the lonely child, as if glad of such a playmate, until her mother had drawn almost nigh enough to step into the magic circle too.” Pg 172
5. The forest took on a negative significance when Hester attempted to reach out and stick her hand into the light. Everywhere she went, the light avoided her, and when she tried this it went away. It shows that her terrible sin had taken all the light and joy out of her life, and she didn’t even deserve to stand in the sunlight. “As she attempted to do so, the sunshine vanished.” Pg 172
6. Hester acknowledged her sin to Pearl by telling her that “Once in my life I met the Black Man!” and that “This scarlet letter is his mark!” pg 174
Chapter 17
1. Hawthorne advances on his theme of revealed and secret sin by contrasting the two in this chapter. Dimmesdale has had a hard time coping with his secret sin. He thinks Hester is lucky that she has the scarlet letter on her chest because her sin was revealed for everyone to see, so she doesn’t have a guilty conscience. His on the other hand, is burning into his soul, and the hidden sin is destroying him. “Happy are you, Hester, that wear the scarlet letter openly upon your bosom! Mine burns in secret!” pg 180
2. Dimmesdale makes a distinction between penance and penitence in this chapter. He states that he has had enough penance, which is repentance and confession on sin, but he hasn’t had any penitence, which is the actual feeling of sorrow for one’s sin. He has confessed his sin, but he doesn’t feel bad for committing it. “Of penance I have had enough! Of penitence there has been none!” pg 180
3. Hester and Dimmesdale still love each other. This is significant to the developing theme because it shows that even when people try to be “good” and repent for their sins, no matter how much they want to feel remorse for their sins, if the reason behind the sin is true love, there is no way to make a person feel bad. It is also important to know that they are still in love because the two lovers later plan on eloping to be a family together. “Such was the ruin to which she had brought the man, once,—nay, why should we not speak it?—still so passionately loved!” pg 182
4. I do not believe that Hester was the reason for Dimmesdale’s suffering. He was the one who chose to keep his affair a secret from everyone, but as for the secret about her real husband, Hester did cause Dimmesdale some suffering—that part was her fault. “Why did I not understand? O Hester Prynne, thou little, little knowest all the horror of this thing! And the shame!—the indelicacy!—the horrible ugliness of this exposure of a sick and guilty heart to the very eye that would gloat over it! Woman, woman, thou art accountable for this! I cannot forgive thee!” pg 183
5. The theme about nature of sin that begins to emerge is that everyone sins. It might feel as though you are the only sinner, and there is no other sin as bad as yours, but if you look around, you will find others with worse sin like Chillingworth. “There is one worse than even the polluted priest! That old man’s revenge has been blacker than my sin. He has violated, in cold blood, the sanctity of a human heart. Thou and I, Hester, never did so!” pg 183
6. A polluted soul can do good for others. This book demonstrates that because Reverend Dimmesdale is a polluted soul, but because of his pollution he had started delivering moving sermons that were known to change people’s lives. Even though his life wasn’t perfect, he still helped others out. “What can a ruined soul, like mine, effect towards the redemption of other souls?—or a polluted soul, towards their purification?” pg 180
7. Hester mentions heartless people with laws of iron, and she is referring to the puritans in the community. They are heartless because they don’t care about people as much as they should have, because they are too focused on their important laws that must be followed. “And what hast thou to do with all these iron men, and their opinions? They have kept thy better part in bondage too long already!” pg 186

8. The chapter ends on an optimistic note because Hester told Dimmesdale that the best thing to do would to be moving out from living with Chillingworth, and she told he he wouldn’t have to go alone, which implies that she would be running away with him. This gave him hope for a better life. ““Thou shalt not go alone!” answered she, in a deep whisper.” Pg 187


  1. would you mind posting the rest of the chapters>

    1. I added 12 through 17, but I don't have the last 7 chapters. I must have cleaned them out of my computer after school ended last year. I'm sorry, but if you ever end up doing them with quotes, please send them to me so I can add it for other people to use in the future.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thank you. Thank you. Thanl youuuuu. No matter how beautiful Hester may have been you are far more dazzling.

  3. YOU ARE A LIFE SAVER! thank you for this.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Thank you so much. You saved my grade.

  6. BLESS YOUR SOUL!!!! literally just saved my life with this

  7. Thank you so much! My whole class has only three days to do these as a test grade. You saved our lives! (:

  8. Thank you!! May God Bless You and yours.

  9. God I love you!! everything's perfect.

  10. Where's Number 8 To Chapter 14 ? 😕

  11. Chapter 17
    1. How is Hawthorne advancing his theme of the difference between revealed and secret sin?
    2. Explain the distinction Dimmsdale makes between penance and penitence.
    3. What do we learn is the emotional connection between Hester and Dimmsdale? Why is this significant to the developing theme of the book?
    4. Do you believe Hester is to blame for Dimmsdale’s suffering during the past seven years? Why or why not?
    5. What theme about nature of sin finally begins to emerge in Hester and Dimmsdale’s conversation?
    6. Here is a key question for Hawthorne and the Anti-Transcendentalists: can a “polluted soul” do good for others?
    7. Who are the heartless people with laws of iron to whom Hester refers?
    8. This chapter ends on an optimistic note. What is the source of the optimism?

    Chapter 18
    1. What contrast does the narrator point out between Hester and Dimmsdale’s ability to leave town?
    2. Why does Dimmsdale decide to flee with Hester?
    3. What is significant about the title of this chapter?
    4. How does Hawthorne reinforce his idea that nature is sympathetic with the union of Hester and Dimmsdale?
    5. Why would children dislike Dimmsdale?

    Chapter 19
    1. Beyond Hester’s explanation, why won’t Pearl come to Hester without the scarlet letter?
    2. What is significant about the fact that Pearl will not bring her the scarlet letter, but makes her pick it up for herself?
    3. Why won’t Pearl show any affection to Dimmsdale? Why does she want him to walk with them hand-in-hand in the marketplace?
    4. This chapter begins on the same optimistic note that ends the previous chapter. On what kind of note does the chapter end? Why?

    Chapter 20
    1. What would account for Dimmsdale’s sudden change?
    2. In terms of Hawthorne’s theme contrasting hidden sin versus revealed sin, how can you explain Dimmsdale’s change in this chapter?
    3. Why is the chapter called “The Minister in a Maze”?

    Chapter 21
    1. Compare these first-generation New Englanders with their recent English ancestors and with their future New England descendants.
    2. What distressing news does Hester receive from the ship captain?
    3. In addition to providing more information, what other purpose does this chapter serve?

    Chapter 22
    1. What is Hawthorne’s point about the governors’ ability to govern? Does he seem to find fault with them? Why or why not?
    2. What is the source of Dimmsdale’s apparent new strength?
    3. What does Pearl want from Dimmsdale?
    4. Explain the remarks, “The sainted minister in the church! The woman of the scarlet letter in the market-place!”
    5. What is Mistress Hibbins saying about the people of Salem Village?
    6. What clues has Hawthorne offered his reader to prepare him or her for the revelation of the scarlet letter on his chest?

    Chapter 23
    1. Many critics believe the novel is structures around the three scaffold scenes: the ones in chapters 2 and 12 and this one. Explain how each fits the typical plot scheme of conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, and conclusion.
    2. Why does Dimmsdale stand “on the very proudest eminence of superiority” before the crowd?
    3. What does Chillingworth mean when he says, “There was no one place…where thou couldst have escaped me—save on this very scaffold!”
    4. In what way is Dimmsadale’s sin worse than Hester’s? Of Hester, Chillingworth, and Dimmsdale, whose sin is the worst? Why?
    5. What accounts for the change in Pearl?

    Chapter 24
    1. What theories are given about the scarlet letter imprinted in the minister’s flesh?
    2. Why does Hawthorne leave the origin of Dimmsdale’s mark ambiguous?
    3. What happens to Chillingworth? What does he give Pearl?
    4. What becomes of Pearl?
    5. Why do you suppose Hester returns to Salem? What might be Hawthorne’s point about sin, repentance, and redemption?
    6. Why would Hawthorne allow the story to end with Hester and Dimmesdale being remembered so ignominiously?