Scarlet Letter Literary Response Journal   Chapter 1 In chapter 1 we are introduced to Hester and her situation, we get to know the scenery and where it all begins, at the doors of the prison and the scaffold. When Hester stands on the scaffold she stands tall. This shows how strong willed she is.  A question I have are will she try to make her image better in the public eye? My predictions for the future chapters in the book is that she will end up revealing the father of the baby to the townspeople, but then being shunned more.

 Chapter 2The crowd is introduced to Hester and her child. Hester stood on top of a scaffold to be publicly shamed for her sin. People of all ages looked at her, and shouted things at her. In this chapter Hester receives her Scarlet Letter, which is a scarlet-colored ‘A’ that is placed on her chest.

The ‘A’ stands for Adulterer, she now has to wear it everywhere and everyday. How will the townspeople view her? How will they view the child as she grows up and understands more? Chapter 3As Hester stood on the scaffold, she looked into the crowd that was shaming her. In that crowd she saw a man, and that man happened to be her husband. Her husband told her to move to America, and he will follow shortly after, he never did. He was settling affairs in Amsterdam. Hester’s husband asked the crowd why she was up there and what was her crime. He asked who the father was. The stranger didn’t know because Hester never revealed his nameidentity.

  Hester’s punishment was standing on the scaffold and being shamed, and having to wear the scarlet letter for the rest of her life. The letter appears to be burning. We are given Hester’s daughter’s name, which is Pearl. Her and Pearl are sent back to the prison. Now that Pearl is getting older and more mature, will Hester tell her the truth about who she was? Chapter 4Hester is still in the prison. We finally know who Hester’s husband is.

He goes by Roger Chillingworth, and he is a doctor. He is called into Hester’s cell for medical assistance. Chillingworth gives Hester medicine, but Hester doesn’t take it.

He wants Hester to reveal her lover, but she will not. Chillingworth is angry at whoever the secret lover is, and he plans on getting revenge. He wants to fulfill his duty as a doctor, but also get the truth out of her. Hester doesn’t drink the medicine because of the fear she might be poisoned. What will Chillingworth do to find out who he is? What lengths will he go to find out the secret lover’s identity? Chapter 5In chapter 5, Hester is finally released from prison.

She is given to choice to be able to move from Boston, but Hester decides to stay. She lives alone with Pearl away from society, she is known as a ‘fallen woman’ around the town. She supports Pearl and herself through her needlework. She is starting to do a lot of helpful things around the town. She makes clothes for the poor, and works a lot with charity. She experiences many major life events that mostly everyone experiences, except for marriage. Is the town forgetting about her sin, and not really worried about who the secret lover is anymore? Will Hester move back into society? Chapter 6Pearl is growing up, we are learning more about Pearl.

We learn more about how and who she is as a person. Pearl has gotten her mother’s moodiness, passion and defiance. Hester treasures Pearl, but she is also worried for her. Pearl seems to realize what she is in societies eyes.

The other children are very rude because they know that Hester and Pearl aren’t your typical family. Pearl doesn’t have friends, so she makes up characters in her imagination to keep her company. Hester doesn’t want Pearl to mess up like she did, so she teaches her about God. Pearl is very interested in the scarlet letter upon Hester’s chest and plays with it.

How will Pearl turn out? How will Pearl feel when she gets to meet her father as her father? Chapter 7In chapter 7, Hester visits Governor Bellingham’s mansion to deliver a pair of gloves she has made, and to see if she can find out any truths to rumors that Pearl may be taken from her. Everyone, including the Governor thought of Pearl as the demon child. They all believe that Pearl should be taken from her, for the sake of Hester. Hester and Pearl get attacked by children as they walked to the governor. The children fling mud at them; Pearl gets very angry and frightens them off. Pearl throws a fit when she sees that there is a rosebush, she wants a rose from the rosebush. Will Pearl be taken from Hester? Will she be known as the demon child forever? Chapter 8Bellingham, Wilson, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale enter the room. The men call Pearl a bird and a demon child, they all make fun of her.

They want to know why Hester should keep Pearl. Hester explains so that she could teach her a lesson from her shame. Before Hester leaves, the sister of the governor tells Hester to come to a witches gathering, if Pearl was taken away from her she would’ve gone.

Pearl seems to have saved her mother from “Satan’s Temptations”. Will Hester go to the witches gathering?Chapter 9The townspeople do not know of Chillingworth’s true identity, only Hester knows but she is sworn to secrecy. The townspeople like him and welcome him because he is a doctor, they were happy he was there because they had little access to good medical care. In this chapter we see the beginning Dimmesdale’s medical issues. Chillngworth helps Dimmesdale. The townspeople start to think that Chillingwowrth is the devil. Will the townspeople begin to change their views of Chillingworth? Chapter 10In this chapter Pearl is dancing in the graveyard, and she witnesses her mother being taken away by two men. Chillingworth makes the remark that Hester is not a woman who lives with a buried sin.

She is a woman who wears her sin openly for everyone to see. Also in this chapter, Dimmesdale questions a plant and asks Chillingworth about it. Chillingworth replies that it’s growing on an unmarked grave, and that they represent a buried person’s unconfessed sin.  Chapter 11In this chapter, Chillingworth continues to play mind games with Dimmesdale. Making his revenge very painful and terrible. With the suffering that Dimmesdale is going through, he speaks his most powerful sermons. He starts to feel terrible about the sin he committed, having night visions of Pearl and Hester.

He is unable to burden himself from his sin. He turns to the bible for support, but the bible offers very little. Dimmesdale tortures himself with fasting, whips and holding vigils. In this chapter we learn that he wants to hold a vigil on the scaffold where years earlier Hester stood for her sin. Will the townspeople see his suffering and question him? Chapter 12Dimmesdale stands on the scaffold. He has a sharp pain in his breast, which causes him to scream.

He was worried that everyone in town will wake up to see where the scream came from. Some townspeople heard it, but took it to be a witch. Dimmesdale had absurd thoughts while standing on the scaffold. He begins to think about what the townspeople would say if they saw their minister standing in the place of public shame. He laughs loudly, and then hears a laugh back. The laugh came from Pearl who he didn’t realize was there. Hester and Pearl stand with Dimmesdale and hold hands to form an “electric chain”.

While on the scaffold, Pearl notices a figure, that figure is Chillingworth. Dimmesdale asks Hester Chillingworth’s true identity. Hester can’t tell him, she is sworn to secrecy.  Will Dimmesdale try to get Chillingworth’s true identity out of her? Will he ask Pearl if she knows anything about the situation? Chapter 13Pearl is now 7 years old.

We see a different side of Hester. She now does a lot of work with the homeless and sick. Also in this chapter, we see that with Hester keeping the true Chillingworth a secret, it could be hurting dimmesdale. Will Hester tell the truth to Dimmesdale? How will that effect him and his relationship with Hester and Pearl?  Chapter 14Hester meets with Chillingworth.

Hester and Pearl see him on the beach, he gets plants for some medicine. Chillingworth tells her that he has heard “good-tidings” of her, and that the town fathers were talking about letting her remove the scarlet letter. Hester tells Chillingwoth that human authority cannot remove the letter.  Hester also realizes in this chapter that Chillingworth now knows with certainty that Dimmesdale is in fact Hester’s lover.

How will this knowledge change Chillingworth’s and Hester’s relationship?Chapter 15After their encounter, Chillingworth walks away, Hester walks to find Pearl. She realizes that she hates her husband. It is a sin to hate your husband. Hester finds Pearl on the beach playing in the tidal pools.

She has seaweed across her chest in the shape of a letter ‘A’. Pearl really wants Hester to ask about the letter, but Hester isn’t sure if Pearl understands the meaning of the letter that is on her chest. Pearl makes a connection to the letter with Dimmesdale, since he has a frequent habit of putting his hand over his heart. Hester realizes that Pearl is too young to know the true meaning of the letter, and decides not to tell her. But Pearl stays persistent, and for the next several days keeps asking her mother about the letter and why Dimmesdale always puts his hand over his heart.

Will Hester reveal the meaning of the letter to Pearl?Chapter 16Hester really wants to reveal Chillingworth’s true identity to Dimmesdale, so she waits in the forest for him because she heard she would be passing through while coming back from a Native American settlement. Pearl also comes with Hester. Pearl notices that the sun shines on Hester, which usually it seems like the sun avoids her. Pearl asks her mother to tell her about the ‘Black Man’, since she overheard women talking about how her scarlet letter was a mark of the ‘Black Man’. Pearl looks around and sees a figure that figure is Dimmesdale, but she asks Hester if that is the ‘Black Man’. Hester wants alone time with Dimmesdale so she tries to push Pearl off into the woods to play for a bit, Pearl wants to stay because she is curious. Pearl ends up running off, but she wonders if the minster clutches his heart because the ‘Black Man’ has left a mark on his heart.

Will Pearl overhear more of what the townspeople believe what happened to her mother? Chapter 17In the forest, Hester and Dimmesdale are finally alone and out of the eye of the public and Chillingworth. They hold hands and sit down by the brook. Hester finally tells Dimmesdale that Chillingworth is her husband. This makes Dimmesdale angry, and he starts to blame her for her suffering. Hester gets upset at the harsh words; she buries his head into her scarlet letter and begs for his pardon. Dimmesdale forgives Hester, and realizes that Chillingworth is a worse sinner than both of them.

Dimmesdale is worried that Chillingworth will reveal his secret and expose Hester and Dimmesdale publicly. The lovers plot to sail away on a ship to Europe with Pearl to start their new life as a family. Will they go to Europe and start over? Or will all of this follow them to Europe? Chapter 18Hester and Dimmesdale’s decision to move to Europe make them very happy; Dimmesdale says that he can finally feel joy once again. Hester removes the scarlet letter off of her chest, doing so she regains some of her former, passionate beauty. She lets down her hair, and the sunlight brightens the forest. Hester speaks to Dimmesdale about Pearl, and how she is so happy that they will finally be able to know each other as father and daughter. How will Pearl react with Dimmesdale? Chapter 19Chapter 20 Hester and Dimmesdale call for Pearl to come to them.

She approaches with suspicion. She refused to go near her mother and pointed to the absence of the scarlet letter. Hester put it back on, transforming into her old, sad self before Pearl came across the creek. Pearl goes to them, kisses Hester, and the scarlet letter. Hester wants Pearl to embrace Dimmesdale as well, but Pearl doesn’t realize that the minister is her father. Pearl asks what they were talking about, and then says, “Will he go back with us hand in hand, we three together, into the town?” Dimmesdale replies no, Pearl pulls away and goes and washes the kiss on the forehead he gave her in the brook.

Will Pearl and Dimmesdale’s relationship change? Chapter 20Dimmesdale cannot believe the changes and good that have been happening in his life. He and Hester will be moving to Europe to finally be together with Pearl, and it offers a better environment for Dimmesdale’s fragile health. Due to her charity work, Hester got to know the crew of the ship that will be taking them to Europe. But now, Dimmesdale is finding things that were once familiar to him, now seem strange. As he passes church elders through town he can’t control to urge to utter disrespectful statements.

Dimmesdale runs into Mistress Hibbins, she laughs and offers herself as an escort into the forest next time. This disturbs Dimmesdale, and now he believes that he has made a bargain with Mistress Hibbins’ master, the devil. Is his health failing? Is his mental health going to determine the outcome of the trip for a better life? Chapter 21There is a new governor coming to the town, this public gathering echoes the start of the novel. But instead of public shaming, this is a public celebration. Sailors from the ship that will carry the minister, Hester, and Pearl were in the public. Pearl asks her mother why the minister will not acknowledge them in public like he does when they are in the forest and brook. Hester looked around, thinking about the large crowd and how she is escaping from a life of dreariness and isolation. A sailor goes to Hester and lets her know that Chillingworth will be present on the ship to Europe, because they need a doctor on board and Chillingworth told them that he is a member of Hester’s party.

How will the sail to Europe be? Can Hester and Dimmesdale ever be free of Chillingworth? Chapter 22A group of the town fathers are followed by a group of armed soldiers. She and the townspeople see Dimmesdale. Dimmesdale follows the town leaders and appears to look healthier and more energetic.

A couple of days went by since the minister kissed Pearl on the forehead, Pearl barely recognizes him. The way that Dimmesdale looks makes Hester start to question their plans about moving to Europe. Mistress Hibbins comes to Hester and Pearl, suggesting that Pearl’s father is the Devil and invites her to go on a witches ride with her in the future.

Dimmesdale gives a sermon; Hester stands at the foot of the scaffold to listen to his sermon. Everyone stared at Hester, everyone who was and was not familiar with her scarlet letter.  Will they end up going to Europe, or will something bad happen that will change all of their plans? Chapter 23Dimmesdale’s Election Day sermon focused on the relationship between God and the communities of mankind. Dimmesdale said that “the people of New England will be chosen by God”, the crowd was understandably moved by the sermon.

After the sermon ended, people walked out saying that was the most moving, truthful, and inspirational sermon the minister ever gave. Dimmesdale sees Hester, and tells her and Pearl to join him on the scaffold. Chillingworth tries to stop them. He says that God has led him there, the crowd turns to them.

Dimmesdale leans on Hester for support. He begins to confess, saying he is “the one sinner of the world”. He stands up on his own, and tells the crowd that he has red stigma just like Hester.

He shows the letter ‘A’ on his chest. The crowd gasps in shock. Dimmesdale has fallen.  What do the townspeople think? Are they angry at their minister? Chapter 24Dimmesdale is at Hester’s feet, Pearl bends down to Dimmesdale and kisses him.

He dies. Hester can never escape her role in the community, but Pearl can. She leaves Boston in the hopes of giving her daughter a better life. Hester becomes an advocate for women and takes a role similar like a minister. She starts to attend to spiritual needs for townspeople. Hester passes away, finally, her and Dimmesdale are together at last. By the time she dies, the scarlet letter’s meaning becomes confusing.

The fate of the characters show you that its not always easy to find the difference between love and hate, or sin and righteousness. The story ended quite different than I expected it to. I really like how Hawthorne described Hester’s situation and made a lot of plot twists throughout the novel.   


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