The Scarlet Letter | Study Guide

Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Chapter 7 | The Governor's Hall

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of chapter 7 of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter.

The Scarlet Letter | Chapter 7 : The Governor's Hall | Summary



Two or three years have passed. One day Hester and Pearl walk into Governor Bellingham's hall. Hester brings a pair of gloves she has sewn and embroidered, but her primary purpose in appearing before the governor is to try to block the plan to take Pearl away from her. She is considered an unfit mother because of her affair. Hester has dressed Pearl in a very fancy scarlet dress embroidered with gold thread. When some children tease Hester and Pearl, Pearl chases them away.

When Hester and Pearl enter the governor's entrance hall, Pearl is delighted to see the scarlet letter reflected in the armor on display. The A is grossly enlarged in the armor, dominating Hester's appearance. Hester takes Pearl to the garden, and the child cries for a red rose. She calms down only when some men approach.


Pearl is the living embodiment of Hester's sin, proof of the affair. By dressing her child as a miniature A, Hester makes the parallel more obvious and shows her scorn for the Puritans' narrow and cruel morality. The symbol of sin is repeated in the red rose Pearl cries for in the garden, recalling the wild rose—another symbol of Hester—that grew by the jail in Chapter 1. The gross exaggeration of the scarlet letter in the armor shows that people do not see Hester, only her sin.

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