Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Only Providence Can Remove the Scarlet Letter

Chapter 11 – The interior of a Heart
Minister Dimmesdale is obviously suffering guilt for hiding his sin and the truth: an adulterer and the father of little Pearl, and he longs to admit it to his congregation.  But he is a coward!

Chapter 12 – The Minister’s Vigil
Shame brings Dimmesdale to the same scaffold where Hester and Pearl stood on display only several years ago, but he voluntarily goes in the darkness of night when no one sees or even hears him when he cries out; however, that same night, Governor Winthrop has died, and Hester is there taking measurements for his burial gown, when she and Pearl walk up to the scaffold on their way home.  Dimmesdale invites them up, but he refuses Pearl’s request that they stand together at noontime, and as Chillingworth is also passing after being at the bedside of Winthrop, the author acknowledges that Pearl knows this secret about Chillingworth, too, though she is not allowed to tell it.  Chillingworth is seething, but must keep himself under control, and he takes the weary minister to his home.

Chapter 13 – Another View of Hester
For her selfless service to the poor, sick, and needy, the common people are beginning to see the “A” on Hester's chest to represent “Able” as opposed to “Adulterer,” but Hester herself has become hardened: she questions womanhood in her puritan society.  The author finally says it: Chillingworth is Hester’s former husband, and Hester is about to meet with him in the hopes of saving Dimmesdale from what Chillingworth is so eager to do to him.

Chapter 14 – Hester and the Physician
At the meeting with Chillingworth, he tells Hester that the town fathers are considering removing the letter, but she replies that man cannot remove it; only Providence.  She also suggests that Chillingworth reveal himself to Dimmesdale, but Chillingworth has also become so hardened in his heart, that he calls himself a fiend.  Hester wonders why he has not avenged himself on her alone, and he admits that he left the scarlet letter to do the work; Hester confesses it has.

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