Scarlet Letter Study Guide Ch 13+ Essay, Research Paper
The Scarlet Letter study guide questions: Chapters 13-24. Zack Phillips
IX. Chapter Thirteen
1. “the iron link of mutual crime.”
2. Seven years have passed.
3. They say that the “A” stands for “Able”
4. I think that Hester and Dimmesdale will get back together, soon.
7. Hester now sees Chillingworth as equal or lower to her because of his disturbing obsession with revenge. Seven years ago her shame was so great and her self-esteem was so low that she found it difficult to openly communicate with a man so righteous as Chillingworth used to be. Now that he had stooped to her level, Hester could better cope with him.
X. Chapters Fourteen and Fifteen
1. Chillingworth has a much darker face that was often accompanied by a red glare in his eyes.
2. He pities her because he left her alone and never showed that he loved her. If he had stuck with her, than this probably wouldn’t have happened. Hester feels sorry for her husband because she cheated on him.
3. Yes, a little. He does give her the choice of whether to reveal his true identity or not, but he suggests that she not interfere with fate.
4. He puts his hand over his heart.
5. Yes, “they said that it meant “Able”.”
6. He is saying that not everything that happens is our fault, some things are just meant to be. Chillingworth believes in fate and predestination.
7. Hester took the first step astray when she cheated on him.
9. Hester would rather Pearl look up to and respect her as a parent than pity and sympathize for her.
XI. Chapters Sixteen and Seventeen.
1. By going to Dimmesdale’s house, Hester would risk rising suspicion in the mind of anyone that witnessed their meeting. She could hurt his reputation and Chillingworth would hear every word they said.
2. Pearl said that the sunshine didn’t love Hester because of her scarlet letter.
3. At first, Dimmesdale didn’t believe Hester when she said that Chillingworth was his enemy. When she told him that the physician was her husband, he was very angry and would not forgive her
4. He could witness to the Indians, become a scholar, keep preaching in a church, act or write.
5. Pearl will discover that someone actually loves her and it will change her forever.
6. Pearl probably doesn’t know the full story behind Chillingworth yet, and is probably just using her wild imagination. Hawthorne meant that the physician had already tricked Dimmesdale and ruined his life, but Hester should not just sit there and let him destroy hers, too.
7. Hester is confessing that she is wearing the scarlet letter because of Chillingworth. She admits that it is partly his fault for leaving her by herself and not loving her.
Pearl notices that Dimmesdale is hiding something on his chest by covering it with his hand while Hester has never tried to hide her “A”. She has discovered that her mother and the preacher have something in common.
9. Yes, it is normal. Hester and Dimmesdale haven’t talked privately in seven years so they are both waiting for the other to bring up the forbidden discussion topic. The small-talk also helps start the important conversation on a sensitive subject off on a good note. The meaningless chat would probably be long and very boring. Dull content gives readers a good excuse to close a book.
10. “…throw open the doors of intercourse, so that their real thoughts might be led across the threshold.” Hawthorne is saying that the small-talk led up to the important conversation.
11. Penance is punishment that you bring on yourself. Penitence is the state of being punished for your sins. Dimmesdale has beaten himself up and fasted for days in attempt to lessen the guilt that he feels.
12. The conversation was over and everything was understood as final.
13. A parishioner is a person of or under the Church. This is ironic because throughout the novel, Hester (”his parishioner”) never showed any signs of being religious or Puritan.
XII. Chapters Eighteen and Nineteen.
1. Hester never actually thought of Boston as her home and she was obviously never Puritan. After living for seven years as a publicly shamed outcast, she would have had no problem moving. Dimmesdale, on the other hand, had many friends and usually held fast the Puritan laws like a good Puritan preacher should.
2. It is natural to run from a situation in with your life and reputation are both at risk. Dimmesdale didn’t want to continue lying and being such a hypocrite. The guilt that had built up inside of him was driving him crazy.
3. No, Hester had to retrieve her scarlet letter.
4. Pearl kissed Hester’s “A”, as if to mock her.
5. Dimmesdale did not have an affair with Hester to accomplish some premeditated goal. He wasn’t thinking about the consequences when he fell in love with a married woman.
6. Hester and Dimmesdale have made plans to run away with each other to live free happy lives. They are both excited and become a little rebellious and wild. Hester’s face is lit with joy as she removes her hat and the scarlet letter which she was sentenced to wear forever.
7. No, their surroundings are the same, but the way that Hester and Dimmesdale see the world has changed dramatically to fit their new moods and attitudes.
8. Pearl has grown up untamed and isolated from other people. She is a daughter of a social outcast that probably grew up displaying “kindred wilderness”, too.
9. Many would find it hard to believe that neither Pearl nor the wolf ran at the sight of each other or that the wild wolf could be so gentle.
10. Pearl has lived with her mother for seven years and has never seen her without the scarlet letter on her shirt. I’m sure that she has never seen Hester so happy, either. She also thinks that the “A” is pretty.
XIII. Chapter Twenty.
1. They decided to go to Bristol, in England, because they had a better chance of remaining hidden in a city and Dimmesdale’s health was too poor for the forest life. Plus, Hester knew the captain of a ship set to sail at a convenient time.
2. Hester was a self-enlisted Sister of Charity.
3. Dimmesdale will have time to give the Election Sermon and inform the town of his resignation from the church.
4. Mistress Hibbens is telling Dimmesdale that she can hook him up with a monarch, or person in power that he knows of. Since Mistress Hibbens is a witch, I think the is talking about Satan.
5. Dimmesdale’s worldly reason and natural fear of punishment and humiliation have successfully hidden his sin from everyone but Chillingworth for a long time. Now, his inner-conscience is beginning to take control and after many years, Dimmesdale is starting to show the real him. Just as Hawthorne said, his conscience is making its presence known by forcing Dimmesdale to expose and repent of his darkest secret.
6. Unlike falling in love and cheating with Hester, deciding to run away with her isn’t a crime of passion. It was pre-planned and thought out after Dimmesdale consciously agreed to continue committing a sin that, in its earliest stage, is already punishable by death.
XIV. Chapters Twenty-One and Twenty Two.
1. They have gathered to watch Dimmesdale’s Election Sermon.
2. “the day on which the political year of the colony commenced … at a Lord Mayor’s show.”
3. Chillingworth has invited himself aboard by posing as Dimmesdale’s good friend.
4. He looked much stronger, healthier, and energetic.
5. Hester stood by the scaffold.
6. Yes. She may have felt that serving her punishment to the fullest extent possible could teach her an important lesson or achieve atonement for her sin. Leaving with Dimmesdale would prove that she hadn’t learned anything from the scarlet letter because she is doing the same thing over, again.
7. In this satirical statement, Hawthorne is saying that the Puritans, even when celebrating, are more serious or “grave” than the inhabitants of any oppressed, third-world country on an unusually bad day.
8. Dimmesdale will fall apart and confess: the result of the pressure Chillingworth was constantly putting on him.
9. Hester was punished by having to wear the scarlet letter visibly at all times. She had to put up with the rejection and hateful attitudes from the townspeople. Dimmesdale also had a scarlet letter “A” on his chest, but he kept his secret hidden from everyone except for Chillingworth. Dimmesdale couldn’t handle the agony and pain that he inflicted upon himself combined with the guilt-magnifying mind games that Chillingworth played with him. In many ways, the punishment for an exposed secret was more lenient or survivable than an undiscovered crime committed by a someone with a really guilty conscience.
XV. Chapters Twenty-Three and Twenty-Four.
1. Despite an incredibly successful and inspirational sermon, Dimmesdale left the stage sick, weak, and drained.
2. Pearl ran to him “with a birdlike motion” and hugged him.
3. The scaffold was the only place that Dimmesdale could escape from Chillingworth. By confessing his sin to the townspeople, the guilt that Chillingworth used against him and restricted him from living a happy life would disappear.
4. Some said that Dimmesdale had felt so guilty that he branded himself with the same mark of shame during a self-torture session. Others believed that Chillingworth had used strange drugs and witchcraft to make the “A” appear on his chest. A few were even convinced that the mark appeared due to the great amount of guilt, sorrow, and remorse that dwelled in Dimmesdale’s heart.
5. Dimmesdale’s close and respected friends denied the presence of the scarlet letter on his chest and the fact that his last words were spent on confessing to adultery. Many others believed that after dedicating his whole life to helping and looking out for “mankind’s spiritual good,” the righteous minister showed mercy and love to an outcast woman and child to please God even during the last moments of his life. Some of Dimmesdale’s friends thought that he wanted his death to be a parable that had a major impact on the lives of everyone who saw it.
6. Hawthorne said that Heaven had provided Dimmesdale with the energy and inspiration necessary to deliver the “sacred message.” When the sermon was over, the inspiration and passion had served its purpose and left the minister weak. I believe that at some point during or after the speech, Dimmesdale realized that he was dying and would never get a better chance to relieve himself of the terrible guilt that had plagued his life and made it miserable for the past seven years. He knew what he had to do and whether he admitted his sin or not, he would soon be dead.
7. Chillingworth had his revenge by using Dimmesdale’s guilty conscience against him. He took joy in seeing him suffer. If Dimmesdale confessed and got the terrible secret off his chest, or if he died, then his emotional anguish and physical pain would cease.
8. Before Dimmesdale and Hester had the affair, each failed to contemplate the consequences and the effect that they would have on the other. In the quote, Dimmesdale used the word: “souls.” He was dying and would soon face the Ultimate Judgment to decide where he would spend eternity. Knowing this, the preacher naturally thought a little deeper than how the affair had impacted his life on earth.