The Scarlet Letter

What is the effect on Hester when she replaces the letter on her bosom?

Chapters 16-19

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"With these words, she advanced to the margin of the brook, took up the scarlet letter, and fastened it again into her bosom. Hopefully, but a moment ago, as Hester had spoken of drowning it in the deep sea, there was a sense of inevitable doom upon her, as she thus received back this deadly symbol from the hand of fate. She had flung it into infinite space!—she had drawn an hour's free breath!—and here again was the scarlet misery, glittering on the old spot!

Hester next gathered up the heavy tresses of her hair, and confined them beneath her cap. As if there were a withering spell in the sad letter, her beauty, the warmth and richness of her womanhood, departed, like fading sunshine; and a grey shadow seemed to fall across her."

For the few brief moments Hester had with Dimmesdale without the letter she became a woman. She felt love, warmth, and need. Pearl's insistance that she replace the letter removes Hester's womanhood once again...... it makes her feel invisible. Note: Hester's agreement with Dimmesdale and their desire to move away and start over again as a family has given her hope, which is quickly smashed by her daughter's desire to keep her to herself. Dimmesdale will need to work a bit harder.


The Scarlet Letter