The Scarlet Letter Chapters 22-24 Summary

     Chapter 22 starts with a description of a procession. The music comes first and although not paired perfectly, it attains the solemn and heroic atmosphere. Music is accompanied by the military, as the honorary escort of the procession, and behind them goes the civil eminence with the young clergyman among them. The narrator then explains how honorable it is to be a part of this procession, since Puritan society has left their queen in Europe and retained the respect for the city and country officials.

     Hester and Pearl are in the market place as well, absorbing the ceremonious atmosphere. Pearl enjoys the crowd, while Hester becomes dreadful at the sight of the clergyman, sensing that something bad is about to happen. He is unrecognizable, making both Hester and Pearl wonder if he is the man whom they met in the forest just a few days ago. However, they are not the only ones to notice the change in Mr. Dimmesdale. Mrs. Hibbins approaches Hester in the crowd, to dismay of other people, and overtly speaks of obvious change in the clergyman after their meeting in the woods. Hester is shocked by the witch's impertinence, but retains composure and denies meeting Mr. Dimmesdale. Mrs. Hibbins pays no attention to Hester's reactions and ominously warns her that when the Black Man finds his servant denying being in connection to him, he makes sure to disclose the mark he has put. Pearl interferes in the conversation, asking Mrs. Hibbins if she has also seen the mark on Mr. Dimmesdale's chest, and the witch replies that she will take her one night into the woods to show Pearl her father.

     As the procession moves on, so do Pearl and Hester. Symbolically, they stand next to the scaffold listening to Mr. Dimmesdale's speech that turns out the be the most inspiring speech he has ever had. During his speech, Pearl is playing in the market place, causing amazement in spectators. One of the sailors spots Pearl and handsels her a golden necklace, asking if she is the daughter of the woman with the scarlet letter. When she confirms, he asks her to communicate the information that the physician promised to take care of the clergyman, so that Hester can take care of herself and Pearl unburdened. Hester is agitated with the sailor's message, but she has another worry at the moment as people start to notice her scarlet letter again and, fascinated with the stories they have heard, many of them fabricated, they encircle her in order to see the letter of shame closely.

     Soon, the clergyman's spell in the church is over. It seems that he has lost all of his strength, his weakness is obvious now. As he walks by the scaffold, he notices Hester and Pearl and summons them to come closer. Roger Chillingworth immediately reacts and warns the clergyman not to disgrace his reputation, but Mr. Dimmesdale shows open hostility towards him, calling him "tempter" and ignoring his advice. He turns to the crowd and publically admits that he is the father of the little Pearl, therefore he should have stood in the market-place next to Hester many years ago. Although he is not feeling well, he finds strength to continue with the confession and reveals the scarlet letter impressed on his chest. Roger Chillingworth malevolently repeats to Mr. Dimmesdale that he has escaped him, finally revealing his true intentions. Instead of facing him, the clergyman turns to Hester and Pearl, saying good-bye to them before he breaths his last breath.

     The final chapter deals with the aftermath of the unusual scene in the market-place. People who have witnessed the clergyman's confession and saw the scarlet letter on his chests, believed that Roger Chillingworth caused it with his potions. Some of them believed that the letter is the result of the clergyman's lasting repentance. However, soon after Mr. Dimmesdale's death, Roger Chillingworth died too. It seems that he was in a mission of haunting the clergyman and after the clergyman's death, his own life lost its purpose. Interestingly, at his deathbed, he bequeathed his entire property to the little Pearl. This could have been a great opportunity for Pearl and her mother to become accepted in the society, however, they showed no interest in his wealth and disappeared, seemingly, from the face of earth. No one had seen them for many years until one day, when Hester came back to her home alone. She put her scarlet letter back on her bosom and continued her life in the only place she could call home. People were curious to learn where was Pearl, but her destiny remained unknown. Since Hester was seen crocheting clothes for a baby, people assumed that Pearl was happily married in another town.

     As years went by, Hester, once an excluded member of society became a kind of counselor to all women in temptation or sadness. Her letter of shame turned into a symbol of dedication and sacrifice which she wore until her death.

     She was buried next to Mr. Dimmesdale. They shared one tomb stone, where the words "On a field, sable, the letter A, gules," were carved.

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