In The Scarlet Letter, what shocking news does the commander of the Bristol ship bring Hester?Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The captain of the ship arrives on Election Day, accompanied by Roger Chillingworth.  This commander stops to talk with Hester and informs her that Roger Chillingworth--who smiles at her significantly--will be traveling on the ship that she has hoped would take her and Reverend Dimmesdale away from the tribulations of their past.  But, no! The most evil presence of all is to accompany them on their flight to England.

This news dashes all hopes that Hester Prynne has entertained that their lives may be renewed and their souls lifted as they move from Puritan New England to another land where they may live freely as a family. 

Prior to this devastating news, Hester has made every effort to save Dimmesdale from the dark man "who would own him," the man who has violated "the sanctity of the human heart."  When she meets Dimmesdale in the woods, she warns him about Chillingworth, that he lives with the minister "to disorganize and corrupt his spiritual being."  Begging his forgiveness, Hester also tells her lover that Chillingworth is her husband; Dimmesdale reacts strongly:

Woman, woman, thou art accountable for this! I cannot forgive thee! 

But, Hester cries, "Thou shalt forgive me!"  With each other they are "true"; and, as such, find some happiness.  When Dimmesdale asks her if there is "not shade enough in all this boundless forest to hide [their] hearts from the gaze from Roger Chillingworth?"  Hester suggests that they board the ship for England and leave behind their unforgiven past:  Thou shalt not go alone!"

But with the news that their nemesis now is to be on board and will follow them to England, all hope of erasing their past crumbles into despair. This news is just one of the many barbs that Hester endures in Chapter XXII.  She hears the comments and sees the stares of others as she stands by the scaffold, Mistress Higgins taunts her with her prying questions and prophesies, and, worst of all, Dimmesdale's aloofness as he passes her in the procession.  Hearing him speak, Hester knows she has lost Arthur Dimmesdale forever. 

that the man she is trying to avoid is bording the ship with her.He has taken away her escape and doesnt know what to do.
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The Scarlet Letter

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