In the concluding chapter of The Scarlet Letter, what does her name mean and how does it convey Hawthorne's attitude towards the characters?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the concluding chapter of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester's name comes to be revered.  As a woman who has weathered tribulations of the greatest measure, she is perceived as a counselor.  Realizing that Hester has "no selfish ends" in returning and resuming the wearing of her scarlet letter, people come to her with their sorrows and "perplexities," seeking her counsel as one who can speak from experience, since she herself has "gone through a mighty trouble."  They come asking why they, too, are as wretched as she has been, and they ask for remedies.  "Hester comforted and counseled them as best she might."

With his portrayal of the humbled, yet saintly Hester as counselor, Hawthorne underscores his lesson that hypocrisy is the sin that causes the greatest harm.  Hester's honest character serves the others; they are comfortable talking with one like them, a sinner and a sorrowful person.

Amazingly, Hester's faith in God and the hereafter is strong.  She assures the wretched that there will be better days for them; she assures them that one day "the world will be ripe for "a new truth."

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The Scarlet Letter

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