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In Chapter XXII of "The Scarlet Letter" as the Rev. Dimmesdale begins his "discourse," Hester, feeling an irresistible pull, remains close, taking her position close beside the scaffold of the pillory because the crowd will not permit her entering the church. She is close enough that she hears the ministers voice in a "varied murmur and flow" (this reminds the reader of the melancholic brook in Chapter XVI). Hester listens so intently that the sermon has a meaning for her that transcends the words. She hears Dimmesdale's "plaintiveness" and expressions of anguish, of "suffering humanity." Hester, standing statue-like at the foot of the scaffold, senses Dimmesdale's heart telling its secret as well as feeling a magnetic pull to the place of her initial ignominy. Pearl, full of nervous energy, plays around the marketplace. But, Hester, feels now that her life, before and after this moment, is connected with the spot where she stands.
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