In "The Scarlet Letter", why does Hester plan to speak to Dimmesdale? What happens as a result of the meeting?

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timbrady's profile pic

timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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This is also the moment when Hester clearly reveals her verdict on what she and Arthur have done:  "What we did had a consecration of its own."  The forest scene provides the only time in the novel where Arthur and Hester are able to speak openly with each other, where Hester reveals her real shame to Arthur (re:  Chillingworth), and where we plumb the depths of Arthur's love, visible in his ready willingness to forgive her.  I have always found this to be one of the saddes and most tender scenes in all literature.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Perhaps another reason for Hester's meeting and speaking to Dimmesdale is her desire to overcome the terrible aloneness she has felt as a result of their separation and her ignominy:  "The soul beheld its features in the mirror of the passing moment...They now felt themselves,at least, inhabitants of the same sphere.

In Chapter XVII, Dimmesdale and Hester are, at last, able to converse about "themes that were brooding deepest in their hearts."  Their sharing of thoughts and feelings gives some meaning to their lives.  Hester tells Dimmesdale that their love "had a consecration of its own." 

In the forest Dimmesdale can finally be true, as Hester has been in her revelation of Chillingworth.  When Hester casts off the scarlet letter and her cap, her hair gains a richness, her face beauty.  In their meeting Hester and Dimmesdale come back to life, a life that has passion and hope.

ms-mcgregor's profile pic

ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Hester plans to reveal the true identity of Chillingworth to Dimmesdale because she is concerned about what Chillingworth may be doing to him. She decides to look for Dimmesdale in the forest where he goes for walks. When she finds him, they are able to spend some time alone in the forest while Pearl plays at the edge of the brook. During this time, Hester removes the scarlet letter and the two plan to escape together on a ship scheduled to leave Boston for England.