The Scarlet Letter Chapter 19 Summary

Instructor: Molly Richards

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

In Chapter 19 of Hawthorne's ''The Scarlet Letter'', Hester and the Reverend Dimmesdale finally feel a weight lifted off their shoulders with their decision to leave the colony and live as a family with Pearl.


Hester Prynne was nervous to tell the Reverend Dimmesdale that Roger Chillingworth is her husband, but when she finally does, they both feel as if they are free from the weight of the world. They make a decision to leave the colony and go to Europe to live as a family with Pearl. Dimmesdale hasn't felt this alive and healthy in seven years. Hester lets her hair down and removes the letter from her dress. Hester calls to Pearl in the forest and they both anxiously await the first real meeting of father and daughter.

Chapter 19 Summary

While Hester and the Reverend spoke, Pearl went off into the woods to play. After hearing her mother calling her, Pearl makes her way back to where they are sitting. Hester is anxious for the two to meet and for Dimmesdale to know her as a daughter. Dimmesdale mentions to Hester he thinks Pearl looks a great deal like him, and this has scared him these past seven years, for fear someone else would notice it as well.

Still, the two watch Pearl come closer and realize that she is the tie the binds them. Whatever sin they committed, Pearl has made everything worth it. And soon, the secret of who Pearl is will be shared with the world and the three can live as a family.

Pearl approaches the brook which separates her from her mother and the Reverend. When she gets to it, she stops. For Pearl's entire life, it has just been the two of them, Pearl and her mother. In the brief time she was wandering the forest, her mother let someone else into their world, and even as young as Pearl is, she understands that something is different. The brook does not just separate them physically; it separates them emotionally, as well. Pearl is on one side and her mother and the Reverend on the other.

The Reverend notices Pearl's hesitation, but Hester ignores it and prods, or motions, to her daughter to move quickly across the brook. She asks her to come and meet her friend, a friend of Pearl's as well. But Pearl still doesn't move. Subconsciously, or without being aware, Dimmesdale clutches his chest while looking at her, and when he does that, Pearl points to where her mother's scarlet letter is supposed to be. Hester gets angry with Pearl for not coming, but then realizes that Pearl has only seen her with the scarlet letter on her dress. In her entire seven years, Hester has never removed it, and now Pearl doesn't understand why she is not wearing it.

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