After many years of secret torment for his sin, Arthur Dimmesdale admits his transgressions aloud, but thinks that he is alone at the scaffolding while doing so. However, he is overheard by Hester and Pearl as well as by Roger Chillingworth. The next time Hester sees Arthur, they discuss their inner feelings. He says he envies her public display of shame, which he carries festering inside. Hester reveals that Roger is her husband, whom she had believed to be dead. When she begs for forgiveness, Arthur agrees, but asks for her help to get him away from Roger, who has been living with him.
As the couple’s long-suppressed love is rekindled, they discuss their next steps. Hester thinks they and Pearl should leave town, and Arthur finally agrees. The decision and the change inHester’s attitude is symbolized by her temporarily tossing the scarlet letter on the ground.
In terms of a concrete plan, Hester thinks it best to go far away. Rather than remain in the colonies, she believes they should go to Europe. Hester knows the captain of a ship in Boston that is sailing in a few days. She is sure she can get them aboard.
After separating from the mother and daughter, Dimmesdale concentrates on their plan. As his mood improves, his physical strength also starts to return. Arthur tries to focus on staying strong and patient. However, he soon begins harboring evil thoughts and becomes convinced that Satan is tempting him. Adding to his tortured self-doubts is Chillingworth’s interference. Having figured out their travel plans, he has booked onto the ship. The couple’s hopes of escape are destroyed.