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"Hester's appearance has also changed over the years, but for the worse. Rather than having her youthful good looks, she now seems more like a shell of a human being. Her "rich and luxuriant" hair either has been cut off or remains hidden under a cap. But she "might at any moment become a woman again, if there were only the magic touch to effect the transfiguration." (Chapter 13)
"Rather than living in passion and feeling, Hester spends most of her time devoted to thought. Indeed, "had little Pearl never come to her from the spiritual world ... she might have come down to us in history, hand in hand with Ann[e] Hutchinson, as the foundress of a religious sect." (Chapter 13)
"Now that Hester has not only publicly confessed but also has taken responsibility for her actions, the town seems to follow her lead and begins to forgive her. Indeed, now the scarlet letter begs reevaluation, and it comes to stand for “Able.” Hester's own psyche mirrors this general change in opinion. For one thing, she has suddenly become more active in her desires to protect Dimmesdale from Chillingworth. Seeing her husband leeching the life force out of the minister, she seems willing to commit adultery once more, albeit in a different form now, one that involves betraying her husband in order to save her past lover. She is willing to risk punishment again in order to save Dimmesdale's life. At the same time, Hawthorne notes that Hester has begun to lose her impulsive, passionate sensibility and turn more towards thought, logic, and reasoned action. In learning to understand and take responsibility for her feelings, it seems, she has found a maturity which escapes even the most dutiful townspeople."