What is The Scarlet Letter about in chapter 3?chapter 3 scarlet letter

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 3 of the Scarlet Letter is titled "The Reveal" and it is a very important moment in the story of Hester Prynne.

In this chapter we are taken back to when Hester Prynne had just been sentenced and placed for 3 hours of public humilliation at the scaffold.

We also know that her child is around 8 or 9 months old and that she is also on the scaffolding with her mother receiving the hisses and insults from the people of the settlement.

The most important part of this chapter, however, is that a certain man from out of town, a stranger, is looking closely at Hester while he is being told by one of the people of the town what Hester did and that she was punished to wear a scarlet letter A for the remainder of her natural life. This strange man asked if anyone knows who is the father of Hester's child, to which the townsman replies that Hester will not tell.

We know here that the stranger has also gotten the attention of Hester, who is terrified at him more than she is of the crowd, the Governor, or the pastor (Dimmesdale) who is questioning her in the scaffolding.

We learn later that this strange man is her presumed-dead husband whose new name is Robert Chillingworth and is in town ready to destroy Hester and to find out who was the man who got her in that condition.

Another important happening of this chapter is that Hester outright refused to give out the name of the father of the child even at the insistence of both Rev. Wilson and Rev. Dimmesdale. Although later on we know that it is Dimmesdale whom she had the affair with, it is interesting to see how sheepishly he asks her to reveal the name of the man who got her pregnant, even taking the risk of her breaking down and revealing it. But to notice the solid character of Hester in resisting we also get a glimpse of her passionate nature and we can foreshadow that she is a fearless and dignified woman who was accused harshly.

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The Scarlet Letter

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