People came up with various explanations for the origin of Dimmesdale's scarlet letter. Some thought Dimmesdale carved it himself, as a penance. Others that Chillingworth, through magic poisons, brought it into being. Still others thought it developed naturally, from remorse. The town authorities stated that there had been no letter on his skin at all, and that Dimmesdale confessed not for a personal sin, but simply to teach his flock that all men are born sinners.
The first three rumors are all true: Dimmesdale carved it himself as punishment for his guilt; Chillingworth's poisonous hate increased its power; it burned him through remorse. The authorities' version is a blatant lie designed only to protect their own reputations.
The narrator says the story he's told has one moral: be true, and show the world your worst, or at the least, "some trait whereby the worst may be inferred."
To hide your flaws to protect your reputation destroys your soul.
After Dimmesdale's death, Chillingworth lost his vitality and died within a year, leaving Pearl a share of his property in England and New England. No one knew for sure what happened to Pearl, but clues point to her having married a man, for love, in Europe.
Chillingworth was a "black flower" feeding on sin. With sin gone, he withered. Pearl ceased battling society and found a joyful life within society.
Hester returned years later to her cabin in Boston. She lived there for many years before her death and still wore the scarlet letter, which had taken on its own legend over time. She was buried next to Dimmesdale. Their shared tombstone bore a single scarlet letter on a field of black.
Hester accepted the scarlet letter as part of her. In death, the symbol's meaning changed again: carved in stone, the letter symbolizes her eternal union with Dimmesdale.