Chapter 18 Summary and Analysis
Dimmesdale inwardly debates leaving Boston with Hester. On the one hand, he feels he must suffer for his crimes. On the other, he knows that he's already doomed, so why not seek comfort in Hester while he has the chance. While he's debating, Hester makes the decision. He will go. The thought of it fills him with joy, which he didn't think was possible. In her happiness, Hester briefly takes off the scarlet letter and throws it into the grass. Freed of its weight, Hester lets down her long, flowing hair for the first time in years. Her love for the minister is obvious.
Hester wants her, Pearl, and Dimmesdale to be a family. He doesn't know how to be a father and has long been afraid of Pearl, but brightens at the thought of getting to know the little girl. She seems so happy and carefree while playing in the woods. Many of the animals are friendly toward her, and it's said that a wolf allowed her to pet its head. She plays in the forest for a long time before her mother calls her back.