Scarlet Letter Journal

Through the eyes of the Roger Chillingworth by Garrett K

Chapter 1: The Prison Door--Chapter Summary

This chapter starts out with groups of people in front of a prison. The year is believed to be between 1635 and 1645. They dress in clothing which most would call boring and grey. This prison was the first building in the town. It's wooden, surrounded by weeds and other invasive species. But, out of the weeds and bushes, a rose bush grows by the door where people believed Anne Hutchinson stepped.

Commentary (by town's people)

I walked by the prison today and saw groups of men and women standing and conversing in front of the prison as if it were a regular building that one would see such as a house or a church. I see it for what it is. It reminds us that we can't sin because sinners get their set of consequences, death or jail. I'm glad that all my family and friends aren't among those behind bars. While I see the men and women in their regular black, grey, and white, I glance by the infamous rose bush. Many say that Anne Hutchinson stepped exactly where that bush decided to grow. It is a kind sight among the weeds but a reminder of a rebel.

Chapter 2: The Market-Place--Chapter Summary

The chapter is set in the grass in front of a jail yard. The people of Boston wait and talk until Hester Prynne is pushed out by a "beadle" urges her forward. She is carrying a baby which she does not know to whom it belongs. Hester stands on a stage with a scarlet "A" on her chest. The women of the crowd whisper comments to each other while the men are busy trying to shush them. They try and decide her punishment; the two propositions are either execute her or brand her forehead. While Hester stands on the stage, she thinks back to her old life in England. She thinks of her father, family, and her husband.

Commentary (by town's people)

While we await the appearance of the Hester Prynne, we converse of what to do with her. I believe that we should brand the adulterer not kill her. She stands atop the stage and you can hear the scorning words of passersby, of hateful women, and of usual gentlemen. She is holding the baby in question. Hester is strange. She is dressed in what seems to be what she wants to wear not what is suitable for the occasion. It is almost as if she simply does not care. While she seems to be in shock, Hester squeezes the baby and it screams. Hester touches her abominable "A" as if she needed proof that it was real.

Chapter 3- The Recognition--Chapter Summary

Hester is upon the platform. The crowd of people watching start to talk and spread words of harm about themselves. Looking out in the crowd, Hester notices an Indian man in his usual dress. Beside him, a deformed white man whom she recognizes. We learn of three fathers in the town and their idea of Hester. The deformed man (Roger Chillingworth) is found to be Hester's husband from "Old England". He talks to a stranger about the trouble she's in and how she got here. After he leaves, the three fathers give speeches, scorn Hester, and converse ideas and beliefs. She is released back to jail.

Commentary (Roger)

I see Hester standing upon the platform. She seems to see me. I do not wish to draw too much attention to myself. I ask the knowledgeable townsman next to me the state and situation Hester is in. The gentlemen says she is in jail for her adultery and the baby she is carrying is a result of sin with an unknown sinner. She is condemned to wear a scarlet letter upon her chest for the rest of her life and stand upon the platform for three hours. I believe this mystery man do reveal himself to the public. I tell my Indian attendant a few hours and we part ways from crowd and sermon.

Chapter 4: The Interview--Chapter Summary

Chillingworth and Hester meet after Chillingworth says he can help Hester. He offers her a dose of medicine which she declines. Hester believes he's trying to poison her. Chillingworth reassures Hester that he wouldn't do that. He wants the identity of the lover to be revealed. They converse longer and begin to talk about what happened and Chillingworth says he thinks it's his fault. After the conversation, he seems unnecessarily cheerful.

Commentary

As I walk into the cell, Hester is still. She seems furious and nervous. When I offer her the medicine, she hurriedly declines. She argues that I'm attempting to kill her in this prison because of what she did. I tell her I wouldn't. I know I want revenge later.

Chapter 5: Hester At Her Needle--Chapter Summary

Hester is released from prison. While she can leave the city, she moves to a house on the edge of town. She faces shame and misery each day and become a symbol for sin. Hester was able to survive and to feed her child by her art of needle-work. Many wore it except at marriages. Even though she was free, she wore the scarlet letter which caused all passersby to be reminded of Hester's wrongdoings.

Commentary (town's people)

I thought she would leave. Hester walks about town and all I can do is remember what she did. It's as if her letter is a bright light shining for all to see. I see her fashion around town and, while it is beautiful, it is strange to see. Of all the places she could've chosen, she chose here.

Chapter 6: Pearl--Chapter Summary

In this chapter we learn of Pearl. She is described as being like her mother and a demon-child. She inherits her mother's trouble with the people. Even Hester sees her as trouble when Pearl torments her. Hester sees her turn into an imp of the devil. Pearl is a formation of sin.

Commentary (town's people)

Pearl is a devil. She deserves the scorns the children are giving her. She represents the scarlet letter without being embroidered on her mother whom she resembles. Pearl is defiant and reckless of her actions. She skips down the street with nonchalance any moral person could see as wrong. She is no different than the sinner she is from.

Chapter 7: The Governor's Hall--Chapter Summary

Hester and Pearl visit Governor Bellingham's to drop off his gloves and to ask if Pearl is to be taken away. Hester heard rumors of this and wondered if any were true. While walking to the hall, some children stop and see them and say they'll throw mud at them. Luckily, Pearl stops them. In the hall, Pearl sees Hester in a suit of armor and tells her mother to look. All Hester sees is the scarlet letter. Walking past a rose bush, Pearl screams that she wants a flower, but she is hushed by men walking in.

Commentary

Today I got throw mud at the sinners. It was strange because they were visiting the Governor. Maybe they were going to talk about Pearl like my mom was talking about. I hope they take her away.

Chapter 8: The Elf-Child and the Minister

The men in Chapter 7 were Dimmesdale, Wilson, Chillingsworth, and Bellingham. They make fun of Pearl and then realize Hester's in the room. They begin to talk about what to do with the child. Through this they agree that the child should have a lesson to learn from on what not to do. It's believed this is what's best for the child and what's best for her mother. On their way out, they get invited to a witch party but are saved from "Satan's snare".

Commentary

When i walk in the room we see the demon-child sitting. When we begin talking, I whisper words to the clergyman. Hester seems suspicious. I want the name of the man to be known. I pry at the two sinners. They talk about how "God will reveal it when appropriate". I wish this knowledge to be known.

Chapter 9: The Leech--Chapter Summary

In this chapter, we learn of Roger Chillingworth's (the Leech's) past and present. He is attending to Dimmesdale because he is dying. Chillingworth has history as a physician and in Native American practices. He sets up his lab in Dimmesdale's house to make sure he can provide the right care to Dimmesdale. The town's people start to see him as a Devil.

Commentary

Dimmesdale is dying. Fortunately, I'm his attending physician. We talk about a variety of important things. I like to pry and see what he really thinks. Dimmesdale is okay with dying. This is strange to me so I don't say a word. He let me move in so that I can better provide for him. I have my own laboratory from which I can make drugs and chemicals, and inspect Dimmesdale's needs from close watch. The town's people are calling me the Devil even though I am providing such grace to poor Dimmesdale. I hope they realize this.

Chapter 10: The Leech and His Patient--Chapter Summary

Chillingworth is now wondering about Dimmesdale's spirituality. He asks Dimmesdale prying questions about his thoughts about sin and hints at the fact that he should reveal his true face to the public. For example, Chillingworth says the weed he picked for Dimmesdale was odd because it was from a tombstone where a sinner was once buried. Chillingworth sees Dimmesdale as a puzzle he needs to solve. They continue to argue when Pearl walks by and remarks that the "Black Man" has captured Dimmesdale. In the night, Chillingworth sneeks into Dimmesdale's room pleased to find that his hand is over his heart.

Commentary

Dimmesdale is hiding the truth. There is something hideous behind that facade of his. Dimmesdale's sin has rotted him away. I know this is the root of his condition. All inward sins have outward signs of trouble and turbulence. There is an affection and intimacy between Hester and Dimmesdale that boggles me. They seem to be in a certain type of web. I don't know what's going on, but I will.

Chapter 11: The Interior of a Heart--Chapter Summary

In this chapter, we review what makes Dimmesdale who he is. Throughout the chapter Hawthorne uses words and phrases like agony, malice, and ineffectual repentance when describing Chillingworth. When describing Dimmesdale, Hawthorne uses words like shy, sensitive, and reserve. Chillingworth is still, of course, picking at Dimmesdale's brains so much that it is described as Chillingworth being the actor of Dimmesdale's shy person. We learn more in depth about Chillingworth's revenge plans.


Since his disease has arrived, Dimmesdale becomes popular amongst the townspeople. He starts to have visions involving Pearl and Hester. Consequently, Dimmesdale is stressed about his situation with Pearl and Hester. During his popularity, he talks and thinks about sin often. Personally, I believe Hawthorne seems to highlight this point because Dimmesdale was being scolded earlier in the book by Chillingworth and now he wants to point out a sort of out of body judgement on himself according to what others may see. Again, I feel Hawthorne wanted to delve into this point because, before this chapter, we hadn't seen much of Dimmesdale's own judgement upon himself.

Commentary

I think my plan is coming along well. The Dimmesdale I know seems to be coming along. His devious mask of sophisticated purity is slowly diminishing. I have not changed my opinion of Dimmesdale or even Hester. I stand with my feet firm in a place never changing.

Chapter 12: The Minister's Vigil--Chapter Summary

In this chapter we see the effects of Dimmesdale's thoughts and visions.


We start out set in the town upon the scaffold. Dimmesdale sees Wilson pass. He sees Hester and Pearl who come upon the scaffold with him. They converse and see the "A" in the sky. I believe the "A" represents the truth being revealed throughout the town. After this "vigil", he gives his greatest sermon. Possibly representing grace from repentance.

Commentary (Through the eyes of Garrett Kepler)

I believe the three of them meeting on the scaffold is a beautiful thing. They hadn't ever been together as connected and deeply rooted into each other as they had been that night. It is almost like they were a family not the usual lies they tell everyone. I hope to see their family grow and present itself to the public in a healthy, acceptable way.

Chapter 13: Another View of Hester--Chapter Summary

Hester feels bad about Dimmesdale. She seems him as a "poor, fallen" man. To me, Hester is depicted as being a strong women throughout the chapter and even the whole book while caring for others. She has started making money through her needle work.


Pearl has grown up. Her individuality has begun to show.


Hester plans to speak to Chillingworth and possibly bring up the poor Dimmesdale which I think adds to her selflessness.

Commentary (town's people)

Hester seems to have changed. While she is still the sinful adulteress, she seems to express other qualities too. Qualities such as: kindness, selflessness, and respect. Although she can still twist a righteous mind, she is helping in the town. Often, Hester will sew an undeniably beautiful piece of accessory for a local customer. She seems to be a benign substance to a past mixture of sin she use to be.

Chapter 14: Hester and the Physician--Chapter Summary

This chapter is generally about the battle between good and evil. Pearl and Hester go to visit Chillingworth. They see him later gathering herbs for possibly Dimmesdale's medicine. Throughout the conversation Hester and Chillingworth talk about the past and the trouble that happened. They talk about Hester's sin and Chillingworth's idea of what's happening.


Eventually, Chillingworth is viewed as an evil person instead of a miracle as he usually was depicted as.

Commentary

I am eager. Hester brings up word of Dimmesdale. I remind her of what she may already know; that I am the fiend upon which Dimmesdale is placed before. I watch him and see the torture of a sinful heart has brought him. Hester doth agree with me. Dimmesdale should die.


We spake of the scarlet letter. Let it do the judgement.

Chapter 15: Hester and Pearl--Chapter Summary


Pearl makes a green "A" of seaweed and wears it on her chest and says it is like Dimmesdale when he puts his hand over his heart. Hester says she shouldn't bring it up. I believe Hester is neglecting her sin and protecting Pearl's innocence.

Commentary (Through the eyes of Garrett Kepler)

In this chapter I'm reminded of my mom trying to explain something difficult to talk about to me as a child. When Pearl comments about Dimmesdale's habit, Hester pushes the comment away and hushes it like the usual Hester. In this chapter, Pearl is in a way the protagonist poking at the evil antagonist or Hester's secrecy. It is a reoccurring sub-battle.

Chapter 16: A Forest Walk--Chapter Summary

Hester and Pearl wait for Dimmesdale by the forest. Hester plans to tell him about Chillingworth. Pearl is playing in the sunshine while Hester is rejected by it. I think this represents Pearl's purity. She even remarks, "It will not flee from me; for I wear nothing on my bosom yet" (144).

Commentary (Through the eyes of Garrett Kepler)

The main point that jumps out at me is the open sky. Hester never thought to meet Dimmesdale in anything except underneath the open sky above. The open sky representing honesty and openess. While Hester wants to be honest, she refuses to tell the truth to the town.


Also, when Pearl is playing in the sunshine, I feel she is symbolizing beauty from destruction.

Chapter 17: The Pastor and his Parishioner--Chapter Summary

Hester and Dimmesdale speak of Chillingworth. He forgives Hester for not telling Chillingworth is her husband. Dimmesdale say he forgives her. They both agree to sail to Europe.


I think this represents our struggle in problematic situations.

Commentary (Through the eyes of Garrett Kepler)

I think it's important to note Dimmesdale's sorrow when Hester asks if the past is behind him. Dimmesdale says that there his scarlet letter is secret and that he is basically artificial. This coming from a minister, who are usually seen as pure, is saddening by itself. Along with the fact that he is pleading this to a woman who has worn shame on her chest for seven years seems to represent the effect of suffering in the eyes of the sufferer.

Chapter 18: A Flood of Sushine--Chapter Summary

After their conversation, Dimmesdale and Hester walking and began talking about shame and sadness. Hester says she will let the past go for it is behind her. Hester then rips off the scarlet letter and throws it into the forest. After this, a "flood of sunshine" fills the forest. Possibly for Hester's good deed, the forest rewards her with light representing freedom.

Commentary (Through the eyes of Garrett Kepler)

This chapter, to me, is a relief. This novel seems to drag on and on about sin, deceit, and hate until this moment of happiness. Hester throws her letter away in the forest. Metaphorically, she throws her weight on her shoulders, her burden to bare, and her scar in her life into the past.

Chapter 19: The Child at Brook-Side--Chapter Summary

When Pearl walks into the forest, she is greeted by all the nature openly and beautifully. Since the forest symbolizes concealment, Pearl could be seen as being free in the "concealment" of the forest, her natural home.


Hester's excited to tell Pearl the good news, but when she gets there, Pearl won't cross the brook because her usual scarlet-letter-wearing mother is not wearing it. Pearl could possibly feel that her mother is abandoning her since Pearl is a form of the scarlet letter itself.

Commentary

When Pearl steps up to the brook and doesn't cross, I think Hawthorne was trying symbolize the fact that when Hester abandoned her scarlet letter, she also abandoned Pearl.

Chapter 20: The Minister in a Maze--Chapter Summary

Dimmesdale is feeling good after their talk. He seems to feel free to do what he wants or possibly says his "goodbyes" to the people since he is leaving anyways. He is tempted several times to commit sins and each time falls victim to temptation. I feel Hawthorne is showing how easy it is to sin.

Commentary (Through the eyes of the Garrett Kepler)

This release from law Dimmesdale felt seem to be due to the fact that we can have dark moments in our bright moments.

Chapter 21: The New England Holiday--Chapter Summary

"The New England Holiday" Hawthorne is referring to is Election Day in the town. The whole town gathers to elect their new governor. Hester and Pearl enter the market-place to see it's lively. There's lots of people and music. Chillingworth is staring at her from across the market smiling.

Commentary

The place is filled with people. I see Hester across the way. I smile.

Chapter 22: The Procession--Chapter Summary

Dimmesdale is different. Mistress Hibbins, whose talking to Hester, notices it too. Dimmesdale's change may be forshadowing a change in the plot. Many "gawk" at Hester.

Commentary

Dimmesdale is up there doing his thing. Eeghk.

Chapter 23: The Revelation of the Scarlet Letter--Chapter Summary

By far, this is the climax of the story.


Dimmesdale upon the scaffold, gives his sermon. He then is compelled to rip his shirt and reveal his chest. On it, a scarlet "A" appears to some. He then faints and dies in the arms of Hester speaking words of God, love, and sin.


Hawthorne seems to be implying that all is revealed in the end.

Commentary

My revenge is successful. The great, mighty Dimmesdale has fallen. But who's my target now?

Chapter 24: Conclusion--Chapter Summary

In the end, Pearl gets married. Chillingworth whithers away. Hester dies alone. Most importantly, Hester and Dimmesdale are buried close to each other. They each have an "A" engraved on their tombstone.


The reason Hawthorne mentions them being buried close by may be to symbolize freedom after public repentance.

Commentary

I can feel myself dying. I lack the hunger I used to have to survive.