The Scarlet Letter Chapter 13 Summary And Analysis
After the events on the scaffold, Hester is surprised at how Dimmesdale has changed. He has regained his vigor, and his fears have vanished. Sensing his moral weakness, Hester resolves to help Dimmesdale.
Four years later, the community’s wrath on Hester has toned down. She has been hailed for courageously dealing with her disgrace and living a pure life after giving birth to Pearl. Dimmesdale now makes more compassionate sermons and has received praise for overcoming his suffering. Due to her charitable acts, Hester has gained a higher social standing, and the letter A on her chest now means “Able.” however, she has no passion, no friends, no love nor affection.
Hester’s adversity has enabled her to forge for herself a new place on the fringes of Puritan society. However, Dimmesdale’s mental integrity has greatly deteriorated. He is tittering on the brink of lunacy. Hester decides to take responsibility for the minister’s condition.
A Quick Analysis of the Chapter 13
This chapter focuses on the transformation in the Puritan community’s perception of Hester. The Puritans believed that Hester had faced her sorrows and shame with outstanding dignity. However, her new circumstance has come at a cost. Her ostentatious beauty, charm, and passion have been replaced by drabness, severity, and coldness. The severe punishment has robbed her of her humanity, and her kind acts are not organic.
The narrator gives his perspective on Hester’s life. He narrates that her life has transformed from passion and sensation to thoughtfulness. She has assumed the freedom to speculate. Had the Puritans known about it, this would have been a bigger transgression. Hawthorne further states that if it were not for Pearl, Hester might have followed a path similar to Anne Hutchison’s.
In the end, Hester is rethinking her earlier decision about keeping Chillingworth’s secret after witnessing the amount of suffering Chillingworth is inflicting on the minister.