Why is the closing scene of the novel important? How does it conclude the novel or what message does it leave us with?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the final scene of the Scarlet Letter, we see the shared tombstone of Hester and Dimmesdale. They lie in repose near each other.

Hester Pryne returned to the Puritanical life even after she had been given the means to return to England where she lived for some time. But the scarlet A had become a part of her identity and she never felt free unless she was atoning for her adultery.

When the novel ends the author paints that final picture of the graveyard. Could it be that in being buried near each other the two carried their punishment and humiliation past death? The inscription on the tombstone indicates that to be true, but the way the burial sites are situated can be interpreted another way. The fact the community allowed them to be buried next to each other indicates a type of acceptance of their infidelity as they were allowed to remain in eternal repose together.

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The Scarlet Letter

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