The Scarlet Letter Questions and Answers
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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In chapter 12 of The Scarlet Letter, what other characters are walking around late at night and why?

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During Arthur Dimmesdale's vigil on the scaffold where he hopes to gain some measure of peace for symbolically standing where he should have stood alongside Hester, bearing her shame with her, he sees two people before Hester Prynne and Pearl themselves come by. We are told that, after his shriek of confession, he sees lamps from the windows of Governor Bellingham's mansion as both the magistrate and his sister look out to seee what the noise was, though with very different motives as the magistrate merely is concerned at what could make such a noise, and Mistress Hibbins believed it was the cry of dark spirits.

Then he sees Mr. Wilson pass very close to him returning to his home after praying at the deathbed of Governor Winthrop. Then of course Dimmesdale sees Pearl and Hester, who themselves were at Governor Winthrop's death bed to measure his body for a robe and now are returning to their home as well. Thus it is that Dimmesdale, seeking secrecy and solitude in his night-time confession, actually sees many people.

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