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FREE Barron's Booknotes-The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne-Free Notes
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NOTE: You will want to compare Hester's words with those she spoke to Reverend Wilson in the market-place in Chapter 3. Then she told the clergyman that the scarlet letter was too deeply branded to be removed. Was she right then? Or is she right now?

Taking off her cap, Hester unlooses her hair. As the dark strands cascade down her back, she becomes a woman again. Her eyes grow radiant. A flush comes to her cheek. The sensuality of the early chapters returns.

The sunlight, which previously shunned Hester, now seeks her out. In her present state, she is at one with nature. The forest glows in the golden light, rejoicing with the lovers, sharing their mood.


We sense that something vitally important has happened in this scene, a possibility barely even hinted at before. Hester and Dimmesdale have come to life again. The minister, half-dead when he first lay down in the forest, is buoyed up, hopeful, energetic. The woman of marble that was Hester Prynne only a few pages ago is now all tenderness and fire.

We are, of course, swept away. As the saying goes, everybody loves a lover. And who could resist such lovers as these, lit up like Christmas trees after years of darkness?

And yet, we may suspect it is all too easy. As Dimmesdale himself wonders, if the high road to freedom has always been open, why have they not taken it before? There is a hitch in this beautiful scheme of theirs. The hitch is Pearl.

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FREE Barron's Booknotes-The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne-Free Notes
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