Dimmesdale is encouraged through Hester’s emotional strength. He finally agrees to escape the Puritan society accompanied by Hester. Hester takes off the scarlet letter as well as her cap, which frees up her luxurious rich hair. Simultaneously, the sunshine bursts reflecting her passionate act.
Hester now desires that Dimmesdale gets to know His Daughter. At first, Dimmesdale is hesitant, but Hester offers assurance that Pearl will accept him. As she moves towards them, nature also appears to tag along like her kindred spirit and playmate.
A Short Chapter 18 Analysis
This chapter contrasts the interpretation of God’s law through humans with the interpretation of the same law through nature. Dimmesdale is immensely tempted to flee. He is the principal proponent of Puritan traditions. Since Puritans believe in the ideology that God’s salvation is only for the chosen few and that one attains salvation through divine grace and faith, he justifies the idea of him being a doomed soul.
The removal of Puritan symbols by Hester transforms her into the passionate and voluptuous woman who believes in natural law & she expresses her deep love for Dimmesdale. Nature also supports her actions. By casting off the scarlet letter, Hester symbolically releases both of them from their spiritual prison.
Hawthorne’s imagery of Pearl reinforces her ethereal and mysterious nature. She has a deep connection with nature whereby forest creatures can recognize her presence, and the sun’s rays also play with her. The flowers respond to her motion emphasizing the fact that she is one with nature and not the human-made world.
For Dimmesdale and Hester to pass nature’s test, they must physically meet with their daughter’s approval. The fact that she makes a slow advance towards the lovers after recognizing the clergyman does not augur well for the lovers.