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Scarlet Letter Chapter Commentary Practice

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The wistful and paranoid tones in Chapter 22 of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter reflects Hester Prynne's optimism in the success of her escape to the Old World, but in turn her constant fear of all the effort being undone by outside forces. Hester is hopeful that Minister Dimmesdale and she, along with their daughter Pearl, will be able to make a new life for themselves in England, because of their previous encounter in the woods the other day. Her confidence in the preparation is waning due to the interference of Roger Chillingsworth, her husband, and a conversation with Mistress Hibbins on Election Day. The author's diction enlightens the reader to the elaborate disintegration of Hester's positive outlook on the upcoming journey to break away from the unchanging Puritan systematical way of life. "At the final hour" of Hester's residence in New England, she, in conjunction with Pearl, has a feeling of "dread [,] inspired" by the "remoteness and intangibility" that Reverend Dimmesdale exhibits while in the procession. Soon the reunited family is to board a ship, setting sail to a fresh start at life as a whole unit. ...read more.


Just a while ago this man of great importance accompanied her in the wood and shared a romantic moment. Nonetheless, he is presently walking with a head held high past her, and makes no movement to provide a signal of acknowledgement in regards to their relationship. In the short time that this event occurs, Hester is slowly becoming persuaded by her own interpretation of Dimmesdale's mood, that the moment shared in the woods must have been an illusion. The third-person omniscient point of view projects the spectator's curiosity that afternoon and aids in the buildup to the climax of the novel. In the beginning of the chapter, the "advance of the procession of magistrates and citizens" has began, during which "each individual member" of the e spectators observes the young minister proceeding with "strength [seeming] not of the body." The reader is pulled into the grand festivities by the grandeur that the march is described as. All of the townspeople, including Hester and her child, are curious as to the sudden transformation of the successful reverend. ...read more.


The heightened jovial atmosphere contrasts with the inner turmoil of the main characters present. The author uses this claustrophobic inducing atmosphere to push the characters into further internalizing their thoughts, with the exception of Pearl, for the sake of public reception. In the middle, Pearl and Minister Dimmesdale exert some power over Hester. The little imp, Pearl, escapes her mother in a fit of uncontrollable freewill, meanwhile the priest, through his way with words, grounds Hester to her listening post, unaware in the slightest of her disappearance. The author emphasizes the dominance that Hester Prynne's closes loved ones had over her own will in preparation for the chapter's finish. In the end, Hester yields to Chillingsworth's plan to upset the journey to England and the curious gaze of townspeople and traveler alike on her brand of shame. She resentfully acknowledges the implications that her husband's presence would have on the trip and therefore has finally succumbed to the thought of the letter staying forever. The author includes Hester's calculations as a rebuffing of any of the reader's thoughts that this story would be completed with a happy ending. As the chapter closes, the main concern is the scarlet letter and the effect that its revelation later would have on everyone involved. ...read more.

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