Chapter 17 In the forest, Hester and Dimmesdale are finally able to escape both the public eye and Chillingworth. They join hands and sit in a secluded spot near a brook. Hester tells Dimmesdale that Chillingworth is her husband. This news causes a “dark transfiguration” in Dimmesdale, and he begins to condemn Hester, blaming her for his suffering. Then Hester, unable to bear his harsh words, pulls him to her chest and buries his face in the scarlet letter while she begs her pardon. Dimmesdale eventually forgives her, realizing that Chillingworth is a worse sinner than either of them. Chapter 18 The decision to move to Europe made both Dimmesdale and Hester happy. Dimmesdale declares that he can feel joy once again, and Hester throws the scarlet letter from her chest. Having cast off her “stigma,” Hester regains some of her former, passionate beauty, and lets down her hair and smiles sunlight which as Pearl has pointed out stays away from her mother as though it fears her scarlet letter, suddenly brightens the forest. Hester speaks to Dimmesdale about Pearl and is ecstatic that father and daughter will be able to know one another. Chapter 19 Hester calls to Pearl to join her and Dimmesdale. From the other side of the brook, Pearl eyes her parents with suspicion. She refuses to come to her mother, pointing at the empty place on Hester’s chest where the scarlet letter used to be. Hester has to pin the letter back on and effect a transformation back into her old, sad self before Pearl will cross the creek. In her mother’s arms, Pearl kisses Hester and, seemingly out of spite, also kisses the scarlet letter. Hester tries to encourage Pearl to embrace Dimmesdale as well, although she does not tell her that the minister is her father. Chapter 20 He and Hester have decided to go to Europe, since it offers more anonymity and a better environment for Dimmesdale fragile health. Hester has become acquainted with the crew of a ship that is to depart for England in four days, and the couple plans to secure passage on this vessel. As he passes one of the church elders on his way through town, the minister can barely control his urge to utter blasphemous statements.Passing one of the sailors from the ship on which he plans to escape, Dimmesdale has the impulse to engage with him in a round of oaths.Dimmesdale runs into Mistress Hibbins, who chuckles at him and offers herself as an escort the next time he visits the forest. This interchange disturbs Dimmesdale and suggests to him that he may have made a bargain with Mistress Hibbins master, the Devil.Chillingworth becomes wary but is afraid to ask Dimmesdale outright if the minister knows his real identity.
Quote: Chapter 17 Location: 2350 “Dimmesdale put forth his hand, chill as death, and touched the chill hand of Hester Prynne. The grasp, cold as it was, took away what was dreariest in the interview. They now felt themselves, at least, inhabitants of the same sphere.” Reason: I chose this quote because of the way Hawthorne used “grasp” and how the cold hand took away the dreary, lifeless? Why? : This quote made me question how cold hands touch and sets a kind of image that’s positive yet dull in a way. The way he says “takes away dreariest in the interview” and the way he describes how both hands of Dimmesdale and Hester are contradicting. I imagine two cold hands would emaphsize on the dullness of the moment, but it’s opposite. So this shows happiness between Hester and Dimmesdale, for seeing eachother from the last 7 years? The way it shows they feel in the same position, “sphere” and how I view it is that they feel at home. Quote: Chapter 20 Location: 2602 “Hopefully, but a moment ago, as Hester had spoken of drowning it in the deep sea, there was a sense of inevitable doom upon her as she thus received back this deadly symbol from the hand of fate. She had flung it into infinite space! She had drawn an hour’s free breath! And here again was the scarlet misery glittering on the old spot! Reason: How the exclamations are used in the emphasis of inevitable doom, and the tone used in this quote. Why? : The way Hawthorne presents the feeling of Hester’s thoughts and feelings in the tone used in his diction shows a way of how something that’s been branded on you can never really come off. This reminds me and shows me how Hester doesn’t want to wear this anymore although it keeps coming back to her one way or another. Quote: Chapter 18 Location: 2494 “So speaking, she undid the clasp that fastened the scarlet letter, and, taking it from her bosom, threw it to a distance among the withered leaves.” Reason: I selected this quote because of an act Hester did, once I saw the word “undid” it kind of surprised me, and even more when I saw the word “threw”. Why? : This is pretty amazing how Hester just threw it all away. The way that Hawthorne’s tone and sense of diction is displayed in this quote, made it seem like if it was so easy for Hester to just throw the letter A into a stack of old dead leaves. It presents to me as if Hester didn’t value that A like if it’s nothing to her anymore. That A, showed how strong she was to even just wear it and display her sin, after a while she wore it kind of showing pride and strength. So it surprised me when she actually just threw it saying like if nothing had ever happened.
Text to Text: The Reluctance of Acceptance In chapter 19, Pearl is somewhat reluctant to approach her true father, Dimmsdale at first. This reminds me of the episode of House, M.D., where a child who goes to a boot camp *his father left him at a very early age) is harassed by his mentor, and they both become ill. Apparently, they both have the same genetic disease. In the end, they find out that the boot camp leader is the child’s father. (Fun fact: the child is Tyler James Williams, the person who plays Chris from “Everybody Hates Chris”) Text to Self: The Anonymity of Blasphemy In Chapter 20, Dimmsdale faces challenge after challenge as a few people desire to talk to him after he’s lost all hope in faith. What do they want to talk about? Faith. Personally, I know someone who was raised, baptized, and confirmed as a Catholic. Later on, they decided to ask questions and they just stopped believing. Legitimate questions like “Why won’t god heal amputees?” and “Why/Why not?” arose. Text to World: The Fear of Secrets and Rumors Dimmsdale and Hester alike are worried that their affair will be publicly exposed (even further) by Chillingworth. This happens a lot in society, where people confide in the wrong people and it might (or does) ruin them. For example, the Watergate scandal with former president Nixon. Nixon confided in his Counsel, John Dean, about the affiliation he had with break-in of the Democratic National Committee, and unfortunately, he was exposed by who he thought was his best friend. He had to resign (the first president in doing so) from office after this.
How do you think Hester and Dimmesdale are feeling as they talk in the forest? What do you think it felt like for Hester when she removed the Scarlet Letter? What do you think Pearl feels about Dimmesdale? Do you think she would ever see him as her father? If you were Dimmesdale, what would you have said to Hester? Would you run away with her or stay?