Socially outcast, Hester raises her child Pearl, all by herself within her limited means, but Pearl grows into a defiant and difficult one-parent child. However, in spite of all her trials and tribulations, Hester refuses to reveal the identity of her co-partner in crime, the Reverend Dummesdale. Part and parcel of the tribunal that convicted Hester in the first instance, Dummesdale is secretly relieved by Hester's refusal, "Wondrous strength and generosity of a woman's heart! She will not speak!" (Chapter 3). The Reverend's silence and complicity also allows Roger Chillingworth, Hester's husband who had been presumed dead, to gain moral ascendancy over her. Chillingworth holds no grudge against Hester, as he feels that he too has wronged Hester by marrying her in spite of his infirmities, but wants to seek justice and revenge. Chillingworth succeeds in his endeavors resulting in the psychological ruin and ultimate demise of the Reverend.
The entire plot of the Scarlet letter revolves around Reverend Dummesdale's non--confession at the time that Hester Prynne was first tried. It is the Reverend's silence that confers on Chillingworth the power over both Hester and the Reverend himself. Had the Reverend confessed in the first instance, the very foundation on which the narrative is based ceases to exist. ...Show more