Last Updated on February 10, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 685
Hester joins the procession heading for the meeting house, where Dimmesdale is set to deliver his Election Sermon. Magistrates and soldiers alike join this procession, and Hawthorne praises them for their nobility, their grace, and their upstanding service to the colony, though he does admit that none of them appear as bright as statesmen Bellingham, Bradstreet, Endicott, and Dudley, who all served as Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony at some point, often multiple times.
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Reverend Dimmesdale walks with the magistrates, looking positively energetic. Hester looks at him then and realizes that he’s no longer the man who sat with her, murmuring and confused, by the little babbling brook in chapter 19. She can’t forgive him for abandoning them. Even Pearl is shocked by the changes in the minister. She wonders aloud what would’ve happened if she’d asked the Reverend to kiss her on the forehead as he did before.
Meanwhile, Mistress Hibbins has made her way through the procession to Hester. Suspecting her of being a witch, the crowd gives Mistress Hibbins a wide berth and allows her to approach Hester and Pearl. The old witch wants to talk about the fact that Dimmesdale went for a walk in the woods—an unholy place where witches like Mistress Hibbins are said to commune with the devil. Hester won’t hear anything against Dimmesdale, and finally, the old witch leaves, cackling.
Unaware of the consequences of her actions, Pearl approaches the Native Americans and the sailors in turn. Seeing her beauty, the shipmaster gives her a gold chain and asks her to take a message back to her mother: that Chillingworth has arranged to pay for Dimmesdale’s passage on the boat and that Hester need not worry herself about the money. He makes the mistake of calling Pearl a witch-baby, however, and she threatens to have the devil curse his boat. Nevertheless, she delivers the message.
Finally, the Puritans grow bored with the sermon and began to torment Hester, like always.