Chapter 3 Summary and Analysis
While on the scaffold, Hester notices a Native American in the crowd. Next to him is a small man, whom Hester recognizes as her husband, Mr. Prynne. She doesn't reveal his identity, however, and he lifts a finger to his lips to make sure she keeps quiet. He asks people in the crowd why she is on the scaffold and learns of her crime. He also learns that, because of his own presumed death and his long absence, she has been spared the harshest punishment (that is, death) for adultery.
Governor Bellingham and several magistrates sit in the balcony over the scaffold. Upon looking up at them, Hester pales, seeing no sympathy in their hearts. This clergyman wants Hester to speak of her sin in the open, but his colleague, Reverend Dimmesdale, disagrees. In explaining this, the first clergyman puts Dimmesdale on the spot, and the Reverend feels compelled to stand and ask Hester for the name of her lover. He does this despite the fact that he is the culprit.
When Hester refuses to reveal the name of the baby's father, the first clergyman to speak delivers a sermon on the horrors of sin, focusing particularly on that symbolized by the scarlet letter. Though aware of the crowd's condemnation, Hester glazes over, unmoved by the sermon, and is eventually taken back to prison.