The narrator of The Scarlet Letter prefaces his "romance" with an account of his inspiration: he found documents about Hester Prynne's life during his otherwise bland employment as a surveyor at a customs house. He… (97 more words in this explanation)
Before the narrator introduces the particular characters of Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth, he grounds their narrative with commentaries about the Puritan colony's past. He describes the novel's first specific setting (the prison) with a focus… (83 more words in this explanation)
The second chapter, "The Market-Place," first details a public scene: men and women of the colony are crowding around and conversing outside of the prison-house, discussing Hester Prynne. Once the door to the prison opens… (116 more words in this explanation)
The narrator explicitly informs us that the town-beadle "prefigured and represented in his aspect the whole dismal severity of the Puritanic code of law," so we can view his "official staff" as a symbol of… (108 more words in this explanation)
As Hester observes the townspeople gathered around her, she notices an unusual figure: a man with "a strange disarray of civilized and savage costume." Apparel and appearances serve as important symbols throughout the novel, so… (103 more words in this explanation)
As Hester stands on the scaffold, facing her judgment, Governor Bellingham urges the young clergyman Reverend Dimmesdale to speak to Hester in front of the assembled crowd, to command her to reveal, confess, and repent… (166 more words in this explanation)
When Hester returns to the prison after this public scene, she is in a state of such agitation that the jailer brings in a man who seems to be a physician. This "physician" knows Hester… (155 more words in this explanation)
Once Hester's confinement in prison ends, she no longer has any future changes to which she can look forward. As she emerges from the prison, she must confront the rest of her life. Her community… (83 more words in this explanation)
"Mother," cried she, "I see you here. Look! Look!"
Hester looked, by way of humoring the child; and she saw that, owing to the peculiar effect of this convex mirror, the scarlet letter was represented in exaggerated and gigantic proportions, so as to be greatly the most prominent feature of her appearance. In truth, she seemed absolutely hidden behind it. Pearl pointed upward, also, at a similar picture in the head-piece; smiling at her mother, with the elfish intelligence that was so familiar an expression on her small physiognomy. That look of naughty merriment was likewise reflected in the mirror, with so much breadth and intensity of effect, that it made Hester Prynne feel as if it could not be the image of her own child, but of an imp who was seeking to mould itself into Pearl's shape.
"Come along, Pearl!" said she, drawing her away, "Come and look into this fair garden. It may be, we shall see flowers there; more beautiful ones than we find in the woods."
As Hester and Pearl walk in Governor Bellingham's mansion, their adventures proceed as expected; Pearl acts like an "imp," who refuses to behave properly out of strange delight with her surroundings. She also becomes preoccupied… (106 more words in this explanation)
At Governor Bellingham's mansion, the Governor, Mr. Wilson, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth speak to Hester and her daughter Pearl. Bellingham questions whether Hester is morally fit to teach Pearl how to become a virtuous, Christian child… (149 more words in this explanation)
As Hester and Pearl leave Governor Bellingham's mansion, the witch Mistress Hibbins briefly appears. She is the "bitter-tempered" sister of Governor Bellingham, one of the most authoritative and proper individuals in the colony; her appearance… (121 more words in this explanation)
As Dimmesdale struggled with his hypocrisy and guilt, he often described his extraordinary wickedness to his congregation during public sermons. Dimmesdale outlined the truth -- the horrifying extent of his moral impurity -- in only… (86 more words in this explanation)
On an "obscure night" in May, Dimmesdale stands vigil upon the platform where Hester faced public condemnation with the infant Pearl in her arms. His sanity seems questionable -- at one point in the night… (135 more words in this explanation)
"Yes, I hate him!" repeated Hester, more bitterly than before. "He betrayed me! He has done me worse wrong than I did him!"
As Hester seeks Dimmesdale in the wood, hoping to intercept him and inform him about Chillingworth's true nature, Pearl (naturally) accompanies her. On this day, Pearl is able to stand in the patches of sunlight… (111 more words in this explanation)
"Heaven would show mercy," rejoined Hester, "hadst thou but the strength to take advantage of it."
Hester succeeds in finding Dimmesdale in the forest, a site far enough removed from society to allow them to carry a frank conversation. They turn to their innermost thoughts, eventually; after moving through more mundane… (114 more words in this explanation)
After Dimmesdale faintly asks Hester to "Be .. strong for me" and "Advise me what to do," Hester gives an exhortation reminiscent of Dimmesdale's passionate sermons. She reminds him that the same path which leads… (118 more words in this explanation)
Once Hester claims that she will join Dimmesdale as he flees from this Puritan town and his past life, Dimmesdale can only gape at her because of his intense emotions -- "hope" mixed with "fear"… (84 more words in this explanation)
"Not now, dear child," answered Hester. "But in days to come he will walk hand in hand with us. We will have a home and fireside of our own; and thou shalt sit upon his knee; and he will teach thee many things, and love thee dearly. Thou wilt love him; wilt thou not?"
"And will he always keep his hand over his heart?" inquired Pearl.
After Hester directly tells Pearl that Dimmesdale loves both of them, Pearl questions this sentiment, asking if he will prove his love by entering the town while holding their hands. Pearl echoes the question she… (143 more words in this explanation)
“Hold thy peace, dear little Pearl!" whispered her mother. “We must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest.
During the inauguration ceremony for the new governor, Pearl sees Dimmesdaleamong the officials who parade across the market-place. Shortly, Dimmesdale will deliver the Election Speech; he is clearly categorized as a public figure, and he… (103 more words in this explanation)
After Dimmesdale finally admits his specific sin in front of the townspeople, and reveals that he shares the burden of the scarlet letter with Hester, as the father her child, he asks Pearl for a… (82 more words in this explanation)
After the narrator describes Pearl's uncertain fate, he more confidently relates that Hester stayed "here," the site of the story. The narrator has described Hester's future with an air of inevitability throughout the novel, and… (112 more words in this explanation)