The Scarlet Letter Chapter 14 Summary

Instructor: Molly Richards

Molly has ten years of middle school teaching experience and two master's degrees in teaching.

Hester Prynne and Roger Chillingworth both undergo personal changes in Chapter 14 of The Scarlet Letter. These changes affect not only themselves but also the people around them.

Introduction

After making a better name for herself, Hester and Pearl find life easier in their Puritan Boston community. Hester finds peace with herself, despite having to wear her scarlet ''A.'' Contrarily, Roger Chillingworth loses his identity through his consuming revenge. Hester begins to realize that keeping Chillingworth's identity secret may be causing more pain to Dimmesdale.

The Meeting

Hester and Pearl go down to the beach where Pearl runs in the water and collects seashells. Hester makes her way over to Roger Chillingworth, who is also there. Chillingworth is Hester's estranged or distant husband, though he is forcing her to keep that information secret, because of her scorn from the community. Chillingworth remarks that he has seen a change in the way the community treats Hester, so much that perhaps they will allow her to remove the scarlet letter. Hester replies that only something divine or from God, can rid her of the letter. He then mocks her a little bit, telling her it does look nice on her dress.

Hester notices a significant change in her estranged husband. She knew him as an educated, calm, person who seems to have been replaced by an older, anxious, more devil-like version of himself. She even goes so far as to say that she can sometimes see red in his eyes ''as if the old man's soul were on fire.''

The Truth

Hester tells Chillingworth the real reason she is there to talk to him. Seven years ago, when he asked her to keep his secret that he was her husband, she agreed. He came to the colony as an educated doctor who was regarded with pride. All he has done since is attach himself to the Reverend in such a way that it is killing him slowly and painfully. His mind games and constant attention for the Reverend have only added to his pain. Hester never outright says it, but she alludes, or suggests, that she owes more to the Reverend, which affirms Chillingworth's belief that the Reverend is the reason Hester wears the ''A.''

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