Chapter 24 – Conclusion
When Dimmesdale reveals his chest, most people say the saw a scarlet A
imprinted on his flesh. Where did this come from?
Hawthorne is ambiguous in this. One theory is that it was self-inflicted. Others say that it was a side effect of Chillingworth’s drugs, and still others believe it was remorse gnawing its way out of Dimmesdale’s conscience.
After these events, Chillingworth is consumed by his revenge and shrivels up
He leaves Pearl great wealth in his Will and she and her mother embark for Europe. It is not clear what happened to Pearl, but it is assumed that she married well and had a family because letters are seen with seals of heraldry for Hester when she returns to Salem.
Hester has also been seen embroidering baby garments, not in Puritan colors,
but of rich and lavish materials. Hester finishes her days in Salem and she becomes a symbol of comfort and compassion. She is buried in the cemetery next to the prison door.
It is curious to note that Dimmesdale and Hester share the same gravestone
with the inscription “On a field, sable, the letter A, gules”. (Gules is a heraldry term for red)
Hawthorne is ambiguous to the last, leaving many questions unanswered.
He only hints at Hester and Pearl’s lives in England.
however, explain the moral of his story. “Be true!
Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait by which the worst may be inferred.” In other words, you must be true to yourself or there is a terrible price to pay.
As far as Chillingworth is concerned, Hawthorne concludes that love and hate
have a lot in common, but that love must always overcome hate.
The reader is intrigued by Pearl’s apparent fate, and the happy ending is to
believe that she lived a long and happy life and was the mother of many children.
Strangely, Hester chooses to come back to the Puritan society.
Perhaps she is enforcing the view that God gives man the right to choose between good and evil. In a way, the Puritan life takes this choice away. The society and its rules do the thinking for the people. The side effect of this is evident in the clandestine meetings in the woods. Ironically, therefore, the Puritan life of the seventeenth century in Salem district actually encourages private sin.
It is interesting also to note that when Hester returns she resumes wearing
the scarlet A.
Hawthorne suggests that the reason for doing this is to make it a sign that
she has stayed true to herself by daring to live beyond the petty rules of the Puritan society.
The final irony is that Hester and Dimmesdale share a common
tombstone. They could not be together in life, but in death they share the scarlet letter.