the scarlet letter chap 21



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the scarlet letter chap 21


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the scarlet letter chap 21

The Scarlet Letter: Chap 21
we will present you the 21st chapter of the scarlet letter, "The new England holiday".
This chapter takes place during a public holiday to celebrate the installation of the new
governor. Hester Prynne and her daughter Pearl are in the marketplace with the other
Puritans. Pearl seems very agitated and excited. She keeps asking questions about Puritans
strange behaviour and even gets angry when the old jailer smiled at her and can't
understand that it's a public holiday, it's why she asks her mother if Arthur Dimmesdale, the
minister will take her hand as he did in the forest, but Hester tells that he won't. Then Pearl
answer to her mother that she find the minister's behaviour odd. Hester, furious at her
daughter response, orders her daughter to stop talking, forget the minister and see how
happy are the Puritans. Then the narrator tells about England and explains how the Puritans
and England are linked. Afterwards, we learn that not only all the Puritans are gathered on
the marketplace but also some Spanish sailor and Native American were there. The narrator
then describes the Native American and Spanish sailors behaviour and clothes entirely
different from the Puritans. At the end of the chapter, Hester learns that Chillingsworth will
escort them during the trip as a close friend of Dimmesdale because the ship needs a
We will analyse the chapter by using the theme of? appearances (Hester’s appearance/ Peal
become the new Hester’s scarlet letter/ Native American vs Puritans)?,? behaviour (Pearl’s
behaviour toward the Puritans/Spanish sailors and Native Americans’ behaviour compared
to the Puritans’one/ Puritans origins)?, and ?Hester daydream ( escaping Boston to England/
dream fade away)

? -Appearances
1- Hester’s appearance
First, we'll talk about appearances and what they reveal about the characters, and more 
precisely Hester appearance. 
At the beginning of the chapter, we learn that Hester is wearing a grey dress p.211?: "..., 
Hester was clad in a garment of coarse gray cloth." ? The use of the word "coarse" add to her 
outfit a sort of vulgarisation, making it looks dull and so affecting the appearance of Hester. 
We can also say that it degrades Hester because first, it gives to Hester insipidness with the 
colour grey and second, it seems odd to associate Hester's outfit with the word "coarse", 
considering that she's well known for her sewing talent and sewing Pearl's clothes. Similarly, 
the quote p.211: ?"It was like a mask; or rather, like the frozen calmness of a dead woman's 
features;..."?, which is a simile, Emphasize the idea of Hester being dull, by comparing her to 
a dead woman, this comparison doesn't only affect her physically but also mentally. By using 
the word "calmness" with the word "death", the narrator makes us understand that it's as if 

Hester isn't mentally with the Puritans anymore. We can also link these two quotes with 
another still p.211 "? It had the effect of making her fade personally out of sight and 
outline;...",? besides being lifeless, the narrator tells us that she's becoming invisible. This 
quote makes us understand that Hester forgets herself and is no longer capable of bearing 
the Puritans judgement, hiding behind unpleasant clothes, and in a certain way disappearing 
from the Puritans sight. By reading the text, we understand that the only thing that keeps 
Hester from not " disappearing" is the scarlet letter as it is said p.211: "? The scarlet letter 
brought her back from this twilight indistinctness, and revealed her under the moral aspect 
of its own illumination ."?This personification shows us that comparing to the previous 
chapter, this one unveils a positive side of the scarlet letter by stating that the scarlet letter 
saves her from the "twilight indistinctness" which might refer to a particular spiritual place 
where all the forgotten people goes maybe like the dead ones that mean that "twilight 
indistinctness" is either associated to heaven or hell. Even if "twilight indistinctness" seems 
to have a dark connotation and so has more linked with hell than heaven, however, at the end 
of the quote it appears at the end of the quote that the Scarlet Letter couldn't bring Hester 
entirely back. Through the description of Hester, we learn that she changes from the 
beginning of the novel. She isn't a distraction for the Puritans anymore, she now becomes 
completely invisible. She has always been the centre of atte...

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