The Scarlet Letter Chapter 9 Summary

Instructor: Molly Richards

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

''The Scarlet Letter'' tells the story of Hester Prynne, a Puritan woman forced to pay for her sins. But Hester, her husband, and the Reverend Dimmesdale all have secrets to keep.


Being a woman sometimes isn't easy, and it definitely wasn't a piece of cake in 17th-century New England. Strict rules about clothing, marriage, religion, and behavior were all enforced . . . by the men in the colony. If anyone could handle moving there on her own though, it was Hester Prynne. Even she is put to the test when she has an illegitimate child, the most excitement Boston has seen since its founding. Barely news today, the fact that Hester had a child out of wedlock while waiting for her husband to arrive in America is all the town can talk about. Public shame and the wearing of the letter 'A' are just a few of the ways the town reminds her of her sins. Still, the tough woman that she is, she refuses to give away the name of her child's father. Just one of the many secrets she is keeping.

Chapter 9 Summary

As we remember from the beginning of the novel, Hester's husband arrives in Boston, just in time to see her being publicly shamed for her sin of adultery. Unfortunately, he is a bit of a coward and lets her take the heat herself, pretending he doesn't know her. After forcing her to keep his secret of being her husband, he creates a new name for himself, Roger Chillingworth. He is ashamed of Hester and angry at what she and some man have done while he was away. He vows to figure out who this man is and take revenge. In the meantime, he wants to create a name for himself in the town and so he introduces himself as a doctor, a profession that is looked highly upon in the town. He combines his knowledge of European medicine with what he learned from the Native Americans during his time in captivity.

The town wonders why a doctor would come to the New World settlement and they look at Divine intervention as the answer, believing that he was sent from heaven to help not only them but also the beloved Reverend Dimmesdale. Dimmesdale's health is failing and everyone in the town is worried about him. Chillingworth agrees to take care of him medically but also becomes a friend to Dimmesdale, asking questions about his life and getting to know him on a deeper level.

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