Chapter 13: Another View of Hester
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I think it means that the Scarlet Letter had done the damage it was meant to inflict on Hester. Although Hester is seen in a more positive light, she had become cold and withdrawn. She is no longer a tender and passionate woman; rather, burned by the “red-hot brand” of the letter, she has become “a bare and harsh outline” of her former self. She has become more speculative, thinking about how something is “amiss” in Pearl, about what it means to be a woman in her society, and about the harm she may be causing Dimmesdale by keeping Chillingworth’s identity secret.