The Scarlet Letter

By Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Summary

The Scarlet Letter is a dramatic novel revolving around the existence of Hester Prynne and the consequences of having an illegitimate child in a Puritanical society during the 1840s. Hester was a young woman who moved to Salem on her own as her husband, Roger Prynne, had to remain behind in England and then spent some time with an Indian tribe. Without her stoic, but scholarly husband around Hester committed the sin of Adultery and was marked by a scarlet 'A' that she had to embroider upon the breast of her clothing. When punished she refused to reveal the name of the man who was responsible for her illegitimate child, Pearl, and is in charge of raising the girl on her own while learning to cope with the social isolation. Her husband returns and decides to seek revenge upon he man who ruined Hester and takes on a new guise under the name of Roger Chillingworth and cuts his connections to her. However he forms new connections with the beloved reverend of the town, Arthur Dimmesdale, and strives to learn about whatever may be tormenting the frail man...

The Review

This book receives five out of five scarlet stars from this reviewer. The symbolism is brilliant, the writing is eloquent, and the characters are developed and fascinating to read about. It's a surprisingly fast read if you're interested in classic literature, dramas, tragedies, or a mixture of the above. It does have an extensive amount of old archaic English terms, but this isn't a problem if a dictionary is available. Overall it is a wonderful piece of literature that I would definitely recommend it to any readers who don't mind looking up words and looking up info about symbolism. It really is a great read!

The Characters

Hester Prynne

Hester is a beautiful, strong, and passionate woman who is the bearer of the scarlet letter and the protagonist of the book. She sinned and that sin produced a child, who proves to be her only company in her exile. Hester struggles through the events that follow her banishment from society while doing her best to raise her unique child and carry on life.

Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale

Dimmesdale is a widely respected reverend who is loved dearly by the people of Salem. He is a reserved and kind man who possesses an angelic speaking voice and the writing eloquency of a genius, however he is very frail and ill and has a tendency to place his hand over his heart signaling some form of heart problems. There seems to be a larger issue than his health slowly tormenting him though.

Pearl Prynne

Pearl (the young girl in scarlet garb pictured to the left) is the impish daughter of Hester. She is a bizarre girl among the Puritans who is noted to be elvish and mischievous in her nature. She is a preternatural child that brings Hester her only source of happiness and also adds to her sorrow as she is, symbolically, the physical embodiment of the scarlet letter.

Roger Chillingworth

Roger was the husband of Hester back when they lived in England. He is an older man with slight physical deformations (i.e. his shoulders are uneven) who is a bit of a scholar. When he arrived in Salem and found his wife with a newborn baby he was not angry at her, but instead the wretched man who had done this to her and swore vengeance against him. The thirst for revenge transforms him into the wretched and wicked man that is the main antagonist of the story.

One of my Favorite Passages

“But, with what a wild look of wonder, joy, and horror! With what a ghastly rapture, as it were, too mighty to be expressed only by the eye and features, and therefore bursting forth through the whole ugliness of his figure, and making itself even riotously manifest by the extravagant gestures with which he threw up his arms towards the ceiling, and stamped his foot upon the floor! Had a man seen old Roger Chillingworth, at that moment of his ecstasy, he would have had no need to ask how Satan comports himself, when a precious human soul is lost to heaven and won into his kingdom.

But what distinguished the physician’s ecstasy from Satan’s was the trait of wonder in it!”

This is among my favorite passages in the early section of the book as it truly shows how the lust for revenge has transformed a once good man into a wretched one. It also shows just how Roger is now befitting of his new surname and how cold and twisted he's become. Not to mention that the writing is beautifully eloquent.


Scarlet Letter Girl by IvoryCircle

^Listen to that awesome song^

It's a song that is loosely influenced by Nathaniel's work, but is very unique on its own.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. [New York]: Barnes & Noble Children's Classics, 2001. Print.

Five Red Stars. Digital image. Passionate Media, 31 Oct. 2007. Web. 5 Nov. 2013. <>.

Hester Prynne. Digital image. Web. 5 Nov. 2013. <>.

Roger Chillingworth. Digital image. Amazon, 2 Mar. 2002. Web. 5 Nov. 2013. <>.

Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Digital image. Web. 6 Nov. 2013. <>.

Pearl Prynne. Digital image. Hartford Courant, 14 Mar. 2011. Web. 5 Nov. 2013. <>.

The Scarlet Letter. Digital image. Angie Washington, 5 Feb. 2012. Web. 5 Nov. 2013. <>.

Roger Chillingworth with Arthur. Digital image. 26 Oct. 2012. Web. 6 Nov. 2013. <>.

IvoryCircle. "Scarlet Letter Girl." Rec. June 2013. 2013. MP3.