The Scarlet Letter is a work of historical fiction by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1850. Set in the Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony during the years 1642 to 1649, the novel tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter with a man to whom she is not married and then struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. As punishment, she must wear a scarlet letter 'A' (for "adultery"). Containing a number of religious and historic allusions, the book explores themes of legalism, sin and guilt.
The Scarlet Letter was one of the first mass-produced books in the United States. It was popular when first published and is considered a classic work of American literature. The novel has inspired numerous film, television, and stage adaptations. Critics have described The Scarlet Letter as a masterwork, and novelist D. H. Lawrence called it a "perfect work of the American imagination".
|The Scarlet Letter Book Summary|
The Scarlet Letter Summary
The novel takes place during the summer in the seventeenth-century city of Boston, Massachusetts, inside a puritanical village. A young lady, Hester Bryan, is forced to leave the town along with her baby girl. And she was wearing on her chest a scarlet-colored piece of fabric. The canvas was in the form of the letter "A". The Scarlet Letter "A" represents Hester's adultery sin, it is a symbol of her sin or disgrace for all people to see.
One of the people tells an older man that Hester has committed adultery. Roger shillingworth, Hester's husband, who is much older than her, sent his wife to America, while he stayed to arrange some things in Europe. Roger did not arrive in Boston, and people gathered that he was lost at sea. It is clear that Hester got involved in a relationship while waiting for her husband, which resulted in the birth of her daughter. But Hester will not divulge the name of her beloved, and keeps the Scarlet Letter and her scandal among people as a punishment for her iniquity and secrecy. On this day, the city chiefs ordered her to be hanged, but she refused to mention the name of the father of her child.
And it turns out that the old man is Hester's missing husband. Where he came to Boston for revenge. He did not reveal his true identity to Lister. And many years passed. Hester worked as a seamstress, and her daughter Pearl grew up to become a devilishly stubborn child. Pearl is considered the symbol of the Scarlet Letter, which represents Hester's love and punishment. They lived in a small cottage on the outskirts of Boston, having become outcasts from society.
Community officials tried to take pearl from her mother, but mother and daughter managed to stay together with the help of a minister named Arthur Dimmesdale. And it seems that demisdal has heart problems caused by psychological problems. Shillingworth was able to accompany the sick minister to give him the necessary care all the time. Shillingworth suspected a connection between Dimmesdale's illness and the secret that Hester was hiding. Therefore, he began to test the minister in order to take from him as much information as he could. One day, shillingworth discovered something that had been hidden from the reader while the minister was sleeping, a burnt "A" inside Dimmesdale's closet, which confirmed his suspicions.
The painting of the Scarlet Letter.By artist T. H. Mattison. The painting of this oil painting in 1860 on Canava canvas may have been guided by Hawthorne's advice.
Demisdal's psychological problems increased, and he invented new methods of torturing himself. During that time, Hester's charity work increased community sympathy for her. One night, Hester and her daughter met Dimmesdale as they were returning from visiting John Weintraub in his final hours before his death. The minister was standing over the town gallows trying to punish himself for his mistakes. Hester and her daughter joined him.
Dimmesdale refused Pearl's request to publicly acknowledge her the following day. Then an A-shaped meteor of a dull red color appeared in the Dark Sky. Some residents of the city interpreted it as symbolizing the Angel, the death of an important person in society, but Dimmesdale saw the letter as symbolizing the immorality of adultery. The minister's condition began to worsen, and therefore Hester decided to intervene. She went to shillingworth and asked him to stop torturing Dimmesdale. But he refused. Consequently, Hester threatens him that she will tell Dimmesdale about shillingworth's true identity.
Hester and her daughter were walking in the forest. The sun did not shine on Hester, while Pearl was basking in sunshine. At the same time, they met Dimmesdale, who was also walking in the forest. She tells Hester Dimmesdale the truth about shillingworth's identity. And then the two lovers decided to run away to Europe, where they could live together with Pearl as one family. They will take a boat to Europe in four days.
They both felt a little free, and Hester removed the Scarlet Letter and let her hair fall out. The sun's Rays split the clouds and trees to illuminate Hester's joy and freedom. Pearl did not recognize her mother wearing the Scarlet Letter. She started screaming until her mother pointed at the Scarlet Letter on the floor. Hester asks Pearl to come to her, but she will only go to her if Hester returns the Scarlet Letter to her dress again. Then Pearl went to her mother. Dimmesdale kisses Pearl on the forehead, but she wipes it because Dimmesdale refuses to acknowledge her in public. However, it seems that the minister has begun to feel at ease about the mistakes he made in his past life.
The day before the departure of the ship, the townspeople gathered to celebrate the elections, and Dimmesdale made a very eloquent speech. Hester learned at the same time that shillingworth had found out about their plan, and booked a ticket on the same ship. And after Dimmesdale left the church immediately after finishing his sermon, he found Hester and Pearl standing at the gallows. Then he climbed up to the gallows to join his beloved and daughter, publicly confessing to her. Then he revealed the mark engraved on his chest. And demisdal died after Pearl kissed him.
Shillingworth died a year after the death of the minister due to his anger at the lack of revenge. Hester and her daughter left the city of Boston, and no one knew what happened to them. Several years later, Hester returned alone to live in her old cottage and do her charity work. She was getting letters from Pearl. There were rumors that Pearl had married an aristocratic European man, and she had her own family. Pearl inherited all the shillingworth estate, although he knew that she was not his daughter. Hester became free, and the townspeople forgave her indiscretions, especially women. When Hester died, she was buried in a new cemetery near another one near the King's Chapel. Her tomb was near the sunken one, but there is a distance between them. And there is one slab for the two shrines. The slab is decorated with the letter "A", denoting Hester and Dimmesdale.
Questions about The Scarlet Letter Plot
What is the main idea of The Scarlet Letter?
In The Scarlet Letter, the idea of sin and punishment is the main theme of the novel and how Hester Prynne, the main character, has been punished for her sin of adultery.
What is the plot and conflict of The Scarlet Letter?
In a man vs. society conflict, we see Hester Prynne pitted against the people of her town. They wish to punish and alienate her for her sins, but she wins a gradual victory over them by her persistent acts of goodness.
Why was The Scarlet Letter banned?
Published in 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" was censored on sexual grounds. The book has been challenged under claims that it is "pornographic and obscene." The story centers around Hester Prynne, a young Puritan woman with an illegitimate child.
What kind of story is The Scarlet Letter?
In combining realistic and imaginative elements to tell a moving and dreamlike story, The Scarlet Letter is an example of the romance genre. In fact, the novel's original title was The Scarlet Letter: A Romance.
Who is the most sinful character in The Scarlet Letter?
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, "The Scarlet Letter," the character Roger Chillingworth is clearly the epitome of sin. In this regard, Chillingworth is more sinful than the other characters in the novel -- notably Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale.
What is the guilt in The Scarlet Letter?
In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne explores themes of guilt to present a new perspective on morality and sin. Through the suffering of Hester Prynne's secret lover, Reverend Dimmesdale, Hawthorne presents the ravages of guilt on the body, mind, and spirit. Guilt eats the body alive, consuming its vitality.
What is the climax of scarlet letter?
The climax in the story sees Dimmesdale finally confess his sins publicly and be released from his crushing guilt. This resolves various complications. For Chillingworth, his revenge is thwarted by Dimmesdale's confession. For Hester, Dimmesdale's confession means she can watch him claim Pearl as his own.
What is the dramatic irony in The Scarlet Letter?
Nathaniel Hawthorne uses dramatic irony, or a type of irony where the audience knows something that the characters do not, when he reveals that Dimmesdale is the father of Pearl to the reader and keeps the information from Chillingworth and the other villagers.
Why is it called The Scarlet Letter?
In Puritan Boston, Massachusetts, a crowd gathers to witness the punishment of Hester Prynne, a young woman who has given birth to a baby of unknown paternity. Her sentence requires her to stand on the scaffold for three hours, exposed to public humiliation, and to wear a scarlet "A" for the rest of her life.
Is The Scarlet Letter about feminism?
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter addresses feminist themes. In the story of Hester Prynne, Hawthorne explores the complex heart, mind, and soul of a woman.
What happened at the end of scarlet letter?
In the end, Chillingworth is morally degraded by his monomaniacal pursuit of revenge. Dimmesdale is broken by his own sense of guilt, and he publicly confesses his adultery before dying in Hester's arms. Only Hester can face the future bravely, as she prepares to begin a new life with her daughter, Pearl, in Europe.
What is the symbol of The Scarlet Letter?
The scarlet letter is meant to be a symbol of shame, but instead it becomes a powerful symbol of identity to Hester. The letter's meaning shifts as time passes.
Why Scarlet Letter is a feminist novel?
It is argued that Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is a feminist literary work with circumstances and characteristics that depict the treatment of Puritan women to convey feminism and convince readers that, in order to live in a moral society, there must also be equality among all.
Is The Scarlet Letter a tragedy?
In his masterpiece The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne tells a story of tragedy of love. This thesis analyzes the causes of the tragedy of love from three aspects. By analyzing the three main characters' different personalities, the thesis reveals the internal reason of the tragedy.
Who is the real villain in The Scarlet Letter?
Roger Chillingworth is the antagonist of the novel. As soon as he encounters Hester and learns that she has given birth to a child fathered by another man, he becomes obsessed with thwarting her plan to keep the identity of that man a secret.
What is the moral hypocrisy in The Scarlet Letter?
In The Scarlet Letter, hypocrisy is one of the worst sins that a man can commit. Just as adultery produces a physical mark on Hester's body (the baby), hypocrisy produces a physical mark on Dimmesdale's body. And only Pearl can see through him—so, when he finally confesses, she can love him for who he is: her father.
Why does Pearl cry in The Scarlet Letter?
As Hester explains, “Pearl misses something which she has always seen me wear.” Pearl's reaction shows that Hester cannot simply escape from her past: her identity is entangled with being the woman who bears the scarlet letter, and it may not be possible for her to adopt a new identity.
What are the major conflicts in The Scarlet Letter?
Much of the conflict in The Scarlet Letter stems from the sin that Hester and Dimmesdale commit in their Puritan society, and how they have to learn to live in that community with their guilt, and their sin.