Dimmesdale finishes his Election Day sermon, which focuses on the relationship between God and the communities of mankind, â€œwith a special reference to the New England which they [are] here planting in the wilderness.â€ Dimmesdale has proclaimed that the people of New England will be chosen by God, and the crowd is understandably moved by the sermon. As they file out of the meeting hall, the people murmur to each other that the sermon was the ministerâ€™s best, most inspired, and most truthful ever. As they move toward the town hall for the evening feast, Dimmesdale sees Hester and hesitates. Turning toward the scaffold, he calls to Hester and Pearl to join him. Deaf to Chillingworthâ€™s attempt to stop him, Dimmesdale mounts the scaffold with Hester and Pearl. He declares that God has led him there. The crowd stares. Dimmesdale leans on Hester for support and begins his confession, calling himself â€œthe one sinner of the world.â€ After ...view middle of the document...
The minister bids her farewell and dies.
Summaryâ€”Chapter 24: Conclusion
[T]he scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the worldâ€™s scorn and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe, and yet with reverence, too.
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The bookâ€™s narrator discusses the events that followed Dimmesdaleâ€™s death and reports on the fates of the other major characters. Apparently, those who witnessed the ministerâ€™s death cannot agree upon what exactly it was that they saw. Most say they saw on his chest a scarlet letter exactly like Hesterâ€™s. To their minds, it resulted from Chillingworthâ€™s poisonous magic, from the ministerâ€™s self-torture, or from his inner remorse. Others say they saw nothing on his chest and that Dimmesdaleâ€™s â€œrevelationâ€ was simply that any man, however holy or powerful, can be as guilty of sin as Hester. It is the narratorâ€™s opinion that this latter group is composed of Dimmesdaleâ€™s friends, who are anxious to protect his reputation.
Left with no object for his malice, Chillingworth wastes away and dies within a year of the ministerâ€™s passing, leaving a sizable inheritance to Pearl. Then, shortly after Chillingworthâ€™s death, Hester and Pearl disappear. In their absence, the story of the scarlet letter grows into a legend. The story proves so compelling that the town preserves the scaffold and Hesterâ€™s cottage as material testaments to it. Many years later, Hester suddenly returns alone to live in the cottage and resumes her charity work. By the time of her death, the â€œA,â€ which she still wears, has lost any stigma it may have had. Hester is buried in the Kingâ€™s Chapel graveyard, which is the burial ground for Puritan patriarchs. Her grave is next to Dimmesdaleâ€™s, but far enough away to suggest that â€œthe dust of the two sleepers had no right to mingle, even in death.â€ They do, however, share a headstone. It bears a symbol that the narrator feels appropriately sums up the whole of the narrative: a scarlet letter â€œAâ€ on a black background.