The Scarlet Letter Chapter 22 Summary

Instructor: Molly Richards

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

The news of Chillingworth's accompaniment on the boat to England shatters Hester's dreams of starting over with Dimmesdale. She begins to wonder if everything is too good to be true, including Dimmesdale.

Introduction

Election Day has arrived, and the entire town has come out to welcome the new governor. The Reverend Dimmesdale is prepared to deliver his last sermon, and Hester, though wearing her usual gray cloak embroidered with the letter A, seems to have a new attitude about her. It is as if she is saying, 'Take one more good look at me everyone, because tomorrow I will be gone.' But her emotions are shaken when she finds out that Chillingworth will be joining their party on the boat.

The Parade

Before Hester even has time to comprehend what has just happened with Chillingworth, the Election Day Parade begins. Usually a dreary town, everyone is out to celebrate the election of a new governor. A band begins the procession, followed by the military, and then important men in the colony including the magistrates, or civil officers. Finally, the very important religious leaders proceed, including the Reverend Dimmesdale.

A Changed Reverend

It is hard for anyone to not notice the changed Reverend Dimmesdale. Never has he shown this much energy and vitality, or life, not even when he first came to the colony. He stands upright, walks proudly, yet it does not seem as if he is really there. His mind seems elsewhere and distant.

Hester notices the changed Reverend right away. He is not the man she met in the forest, with whom she held hands and to whom she professed her love and devotion. He is not the person she made plans with to leave the colony and start a new life in England. He seems too proud and arrogant to be the same man. She feels as if she must have been dreaming.

Even Pearl takes notice, either of her mother's reaction to the Reverend or to the Reverend himself. She asks her mother if that is the same man who kissed her forehead in the forest, because he looks so different. If she had recognized him, she says she would have run up to him in the marketplace and kissed him. Her mother scolds her for this and reminds her of the inappropriateness of that in a public place.

Mistress Hibbins

As much as Hester does not want anyone hearing their conversation, of course Mistress Hibbins is around . . . isn't she always around when no one wants her to be? She is dressed so beautifully and elegantly for the occasion that it is almost difficult to remember her true nature (a practicing witch). She joins Hester in her thoughts and asks if it is possible that the Reverend they are seeing today is the same man Hester met in the forest. Hester denies that she knows what the mistress is talking about, but the mistress stops her. Of course Mistress Hibbins knows they have met in the forest, and she knows that Hester openly wears her sin on her bosom, but that the Reverend does not. She tells Hester that the Black Man, or the devil, knows who his servants are, and the Reverend will soon be sharing his sin with everyone.

Pearl overhears the Mistress talking with her mother and asks why the Reverend puts his hand over his heart. Has the Mistress seen what is underneath? Mistress Hibbins changes the subject, but tells Pearl that her father is the Black Man and if she ever wants to take a witch's ride with her, she is more than welcome.

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