The Scarlet Letter

By: Nathaniel Hawthorne


The story takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, in the late seventeen hundreds. Hester Prynne and her daughter lived in the Puritan community, although Hester's husband had not been seen for two years. She is then accused of adultery and forced to wear a red A on her chest to represent her crime. Her daughter,Pearl, and her lived in the prison until they are permitted to leave and, live in a small house on the outskirts of town. There Hester earns money by doing stitch work, she was a very skillful stitcher. Pearl grew up being shunned as well and she grew up with a wild and unruly behavior. Hester was constantly bombarded to reveal her lover's identity, but she never did. While still in the prison a man named Rodger Chillingworth he is to become a great doctor in the town, but he is there with the intent on revenge. He has a secret and tells only Hester, and swears her to secrecy.


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Hester Prynne Hester is the book’s protagonist and the one who wore the scarlet letter. Hester is an “adulterer” and wears an A for it. Hester married a scholar, Chillingworth, who sent her ahead to America. While there she had an affair with the minister, Dimmesdale, afterwards she gave birth to Pearl. Hester and Pearl endure years of shame and scorn.

Pearl Hester’s daughter Pearl is a young girl with a moody, mischievous spirit and an ability to perceive things differently than others. For example, she quickly discerns the truth about her mother and Dimmesdale. The townspeople say that she barely seems human and spread rumors that her unknown father is actually the Devil. She is very smart for her age and often asks questions.

Roger Chillingworth Roger Chillingworth is Hester’s husband in disguise. He is much older than she is and had sent her to America. He is captured by Native Americans, and arrives in Boston belatedly and finds Hester and her child being put on the scaffold. He wants revenge, and decides to stay in Boston despite his wife’s crime. He is a scholar and uses his knowledge to disguise himself as a doctor, intent on discovering and tormenting Hester’s lover. Chillingworth is self-absorbed and egotistic.

Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale Dimmesdale became famous in England as a theologian and then came to America. He and Hester became lovers. Although he will not confess it publicly, he is the father of her child. He deals with his guilt by tormenting himself physically and psychologically, developing a heart condition as a result. Dimmesdale is an intelligent and emotional man.

Governor Bellingham Governor Bellingham is a wealthy, old man who consults with the other town fathers often. Bellingham tends to strictly adhere to the rules, but he is easily swayed by Dimmesdale. He remains blind to the misbehaviors taking place in his own home. His sister, Mistress Hibbins, is a witch.

Mistress Hibbins Mistress Hibbins is a widow who lives with her brother, Governor Bellingham. She is commonly known to be a witch who goes into the forest at night to converse with the “Black Man.”

Reverend Mr. John Wilson - Boston’s old clergyman, Reverend Wilson is extremely smart. Like Governor Bellingham, Wilson follows the community’s rules but can be swayed by Dimmesdale. Unlike Dimmesdale, his junior colleague, Wilson preaches hellfire and damnation and advocates harsh punishment of sinners.

Favorite passage

“Mother,” said little Pearl, “the sunshine does not love you. It runs away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something on your bosom. . . . It will not flee from me, for I wear nothing on my bosom yet!” “Nor ever will, my child, I hope,” said Hester.
“And why not, mother?” asked Pearl, stopping short. . . . “Will it not come of its own accord, when I am a woman grown?" I like this quote because, it shows how outspoken Pearl is. She is not afraid to ask questions and she is observant yet ignorant of their meanings, she sees and recognizes the letter, but does not understand it yet.

Review of book

It is a really good book about romance, out casting, women's rights, and revenge. However it can be hard to follow along with at times, especially in the beginning. Once you read past about the first three chapters it becomes a lot easier to read and you start to get into it.