The Scarlet Letter Chapter 21 Summary And Analysis
Hester and her daughter make their way to the marketplace. They want to witness the procession and celebrations accompanying the assumption of office by elected officials. Hester is thinking about their plan with Dimmesdale to leave Boston together and once again begin a new life as a woman.
As she is deeply thinking about the future, her daughter begins dancing as she anticipates the procession. Pearl is the only one who can sense her mother’s excitement. However, to other people, Hester seems to watch the procession passively.
Meanwhile, Pearl persists with her witty questions. She is curious to know what the procession is about and inquires whether Dimmesdale will finally acknowledge them just as he did on the night at the scaffold. Hester shuts her down and warns her not to shout out Dimmesdale’s name.
When Hester and Pearl arrive at the Bristol-bound ship, the captain sees her and informs her that Chillingworth will accompany them on their trip to Europe.
A Short Chapter 21 Analysis
The third scene involving the scaffold is brought out in this chapter. All characters are brought together to highlight the key conflicts in public. Hester is a good example of the contrast between the somber nature of Puritan public life and the joy she feels within. However, she must not outwardly express it and should also hide her intentions to escape with Dimmesdale and Pearl.
The comments uttered by Pearl are also important in that they portent the Dimmesdale’s downfall unless he publicly confesses his sin. She constantly wonders why Dimmesdale can never acknowledge Hester or her in public light. The author points out that even if they escape, Dimmesdale shall never live peacefully with Hester unless he reveals his secret to the public.
This concept is reinforced upon Hester’s discovery that Chillingworth will also be accompanying them on their voyage to Bristol. Chillingworth seems determined to torment him wherever he escapes to.