Chapter 14 Notes from The Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Letter Chapter 14

Hester encounters Chillingworth by the shore a few days later, gathering weeds with which to make medicines. She tells Pearl to leave her and play by the water's edge while she approaches Chillingworth.

Topic Tracking: Wild 7

Before anything else, he tells Hester that the town magistrates were recently debating whether or not to let Hester remove the Scarlet Letter. Hester replies: "It lies not in the pleasure of the magistrates to take off this badge....Were I worthy to be quit of it, it would fall away of its own nature, or be transformed into something that should speak a different purport." Chapter 14, pg. 155.

As Chillingworth speaks to her, Hester notices a deep and harsh burning in Chillingworth's eyes. Hester realizes that Chillingworth has become a devil, and she stares at the flame in his eyes, all the while feeling the burning of the scarlet letter on her chest. The two are the same.

Topic Tracking: Burning 6
Topic Tracking: Red 6

She is glad to change the subject to Dimmesdale, about whom Chillingworth is excited to speak, because Hester is his one and only confidant. However, Hester states that she is sorry she ever made a vow of secrecy with Chillingworth, because it made things so much worse for Dimmesdale. Chillingworth claims that he has kept the man alive with his medicine, but Hester replies by saying that death would have been far more welcome and a less harsh punishment to Dimmesdale. Chillingworth gets very excited defending the punishment he has exacted from Dimmesdale, and stops suddenly, realizing how fiend-like he has become. "'I have already told thee what I am! Fiend! Who made me so?' 'It was myself!' cried Hester, shuddering. 'It was I, not less than he. Why has thou not avenged thyself on me?' 'I have left thee to the scarlet letter,' replied Roger Chillingworth. 'If that have not avenged me, I can do no more!' He laid his finger on it, with a smile. 'It has avenged thee!' answered Hester Prynne." Chapter 14, pg. 158.

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