Chapter 20 – The Minister in a Maze
Everything seems altered to Dimmesdale now: his surroundings, as well as himself; he would like to proclaim to everyone he meets that he is a new soul, but then he experiences bizarre situations with the elders and townspeople, in which he almost cannot control his evil thoughts; he begins to fear that he really met with Miss Hibbins, the witch, in the forest instead. Now that he has a new outlook on humankind, he decides to rewrite his election sermon that he must give in three days.
Chapter 21 – The New England Holiday
The town has gathered for the public procession of their new ruler. All have stopped work to come and witness this day, including the seaman and the ship captain who knows he is taking Hester, Pearl, and Dimmesdale across the ocean; he stops to speak with Hester to inform her that a new passenger is joining her party: a Mr. Chillingworth.
Chapter 22 – The Procession
As the procession proceeds with military, statesmen, and clergy, Rev. Dimmesdale, who seems more vivacious and recovered than ever, follows behind; Hester is discontented because she hardly distinguishes him, and now she has doubts about their plans. Then Mistress Hibbins insults Hester and tells her that the mark of the Black Man will be soon be made known to all. Hester takes her place to hear Dimmesdale give the election sermon, and Pearl relays a message to her mother that Chillingworth is going to bring Dimmesdale to the ship tomorrow.
Chapter 23 – The Revelation of the Scarlet Letter
Once Dimmesdale is finished speaking, the crowd leaves in utter amazement at his word, claiming it to be from God; but Dimmesdale emerges from the meetinghouse into the crowd losing his life right before them. He approaches Hester, and calls her to stand upon the scaffold with him where he tells the people to “behold God’s judgment on a sinner;” and he opens his ministerial band to reveal his shame upon his breast. After Pearl kisses him willingly, he proclaims God’s mercy in his afflictions, and gives up his spirit.
Chapter 24 – Conclusion
Different accounts exist about what the people witnessed on the chest of the minister, including the sign of the scarlet letter fixed in the flesh. As for Mr. Chillingworth: he died miserably within a year, but he left a great deal of property to Pearl in America and England, where she married and lived happily; but Hester, who left some time after these events, returned to her place of sin and lived a sacrificial life, becoming a great source of counsel for others. When she died, she was buried in the burial ground with an engraved escutcheon: “On a field, sable, the letter A, gules,” which is: a heraldic shield with a red-colored letter A on a black background.