The Scarlet Letter Questions and Answers
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter book cover
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What is the meaning of this passage from The Scarlet Letter's Chapter XXIV: "Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst be inferred!"? Is there any specific meaning to this?

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This passage from "Conclusion" in The Scarlet Letter is a statement of the moral directed to the reader by Hawthorne himself.  After the scarlet letter A is revealed on the chest of the dying minister, speculation about it begins among the congregation. As narrator, the author refers to the hypocrisy of Dimmesdale which has haunted him and caused the greatest damage.  Had the minister admitted his sin, then he could have prevented the vengeance of Chillingworth; and, had Hester been "true," Dimmesdale would have been informed about the physician's intent toward him.  But, all have been false. 

Hawthorne's emphatic message of the importance of...

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