The Scarlet Letter Chapter 2 Summary And Analysis
Outside the prison is a group of puritan women waiting. They are judgmentally and vigorously discussing Hester Prynne’s sins. Suddenly, the beautiful Hester proudly emerges through the prison door wearing a scarlet articulately embroidered with letter A- representing adultery- upon her bosom. She is also carrying her 3-month-old baby in her arms.
She is led through the insensitive crowd towards the pillory’s scaffold where she is to stand by herself as punishment for her adulterous act. It is there that she recalls her previous life in Europe and England in particular. Suddenly Hester recognizes the angry faces staring up at her and comes to terms with her shameful punishment.
Analysis of the Chapter 2
This is the chapter whereby Hawthorne starts to characterize the four major characters in the novel. He physically describes Hester and introduces the reader to her background. Pearl is a manifestation of sin (child born out of adultery). However, she is also a product of love.
The reader is then introduced to Rodger Chillingworth and Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale. These are two of the main characters in the novel. One of the women in the crowd notices Dimmesdale’s grief and is rather surprised. Chillingworth is Hester’s legitimate husband.
The author chronicles the puritan society, further revealing his scathing attitude towards it. The women in the crows had a pious attitude as they condemned Hester. Puritan women are depicted as hypocritical gossips. However, Hawthorne avoids generalization by highlighting one of the women’s sympathetic remarks on Hester’s torment.
As Hester appears holding Pearl, she sharply contrasts with her surroundings. She embodies natural dignity and grace rejecting the law and curving her path. The letter A upon her dress was embedded using golden threads. It symbolizes something transcendental. The red color on the letter which stands for adultery is synonymous to the rosebush as well as the letter that appears in the sky later on.