By this point in the story, Hester has earned the respect of the townspeople. Despite the scorn with which they have treated her, she has over the years "submitted uncomplainingly", while living a life of "blameless purity". Hester has given generously to those worse off than her, and has ever been ready to help those in need - "such helpfulness was found in her - so much power to do, and power to sympathize - that many people refused to interpret the scarlet letter by its original significance...they said that it meant Able, so strong was Hester Prynne" (Chapter 13).
In Chapter 15, Hester first recognizes the feelings of hatred and bitterness that she harbors in her heart towards Chillingsworth. She blames him now because "in the time when her heart knew no better, he had persuaded her to fancy herself happy by his side". "He betrayed me", she affirms", he has done the worse wrong than I did him!"
Hester also at this point looks at Pearl in a new light. She considers whether the child, who has always been curious about the scarlet letter her mother must wear, "might already have approached the age when she could be made a friend, and entrusted with as much of her mother's sorrows as could be imparted". Yet Hester cannot bring herself to tell Pearl the truth about the scarlet letter, bringing up questions of whether "some new evil" has crept into her heart (Chapter 15).