Intriguing and Melancholy Story “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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[1]The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a Intriguing and melancholy story about a woman in Boston named Hester Prynne. She is blamelessly living in a puritan settlement until she had an affair with a man, while her husband was believed to be lost at sea. [3]Immediately, she was placed in prison and labeled as an adulterer. She was forced to wear a red A on her chest. Hester refuses to name the man, whom is now a father because Hester ended up pregnant. [5]When Hester had the baby, she named her Pearl. The people led her out of the prison to question her, but one of the onlookers was Hesters husband, who now goes by Roger Chillingworth. After spending time in prison, Hester works as a seamstress to support Pearl and herself. They lived in a small cottage outside of town because they were shunned by the townsfolk. Officials try to take Pearl away from Hester, but Arthur Dimmesdale, a respected minister, steps in and helps Pearl stay with her mother. Arthur has heart problems, so Roger moves in with him to care for him and find out if he had been connected to Hesters adultuous act. One night, Arthur was sleeping and Roger found a red A branded on his chest. By the time Pearl turned seven, Hester has made amends with the townsfolk. Everyone is starting to get suspicious, so Arthur, Hester, and Pearl plan to escape to England to enjoy the rest of their time as a happy family. The day they are to leave, Hester takes off her letter and Arthur confesses to being Pearls father and reveals his red A. He ends up dropping dead when Pearl kisses him. Roger ends up dying from his anger a year later and the mother and daughter leave. Hester comes back years later, wears her red A, and lives there until her death. She ends up buried with Arthur and sharing a gravestone with a red A.


Hester Prynne: humble, passionate, enduring, kind

Pearl: mischievous, wise, perceiving, moody

Roger Chillingworth: vengeful, stubborn, self-absorbed, intelligent

Arthur Dimmesdale: wise, disciplined, intelligent

Discussion Questions:

Why did Arthur torment himself as severally as he did, when no one knew that he was Pearls father?

If Arthur felt as guilty as he did, why not fess up to the entire town and take their punishment.

Why did Roger not do anything rash although he definitely had the anger to do something?

Key Passage, from Conclusion, p. 146

At the end when Hester returns, Hawthorne writes:

But there was a more real life for Hester Prynne here, in New England, than in that unknown region where Pearl had found a home. Here had been her sin; here, her sorrow; and here was yet to be her penitence. She had returned, therefore, and resumed, of her own free will, for not the sternest magistrate of that iron period would have imposed it, resumed the symbol of which we have related so dark a tale. Never afterwards did it quit her bosom. But the scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the worlds scorn and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe, and yet with reverence, too.

Key Passage Explanation:

[2]In this passage Hawthorne expresses the special place that New England holds in her heart. [4]Viewing the red letter, which used to be a heavy burden on her shoulders and a shameful reminder, now as a beautiful sign of strength and overcoming, Hester wears it proudly. [6]She is no longer ashamed. Others look upon her in sadness and admiration for what she endured although it reminds her of some of the best things that happened to her. She remembers her daughter. She remembers Arthur. She remembers the light in the darkness. She wears this letter willingly. There is no amount of spite that can affect her anymore in relation to that letter.

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Intriguing and Melancholy Story "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. (2019, May 18). Retrieved April 13, 2024 , from

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