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Novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1850. Hester Prynne, wife of an older man who has been absent in England for two years, becomes the mother of an illegitimate child in Puritan New England, and is forced to wear the
Scarlet Letter
scarlet letter A on her chest as punishment for her adultery. She refuses to name the father, despite the exhortations of the community's young minister, Arthur Dimmesdale, who is in fact the father. Hester's husband arrives and, concealing his identity under the name Roger Chillingworth, attempts to learn the identity of Hester's lover. His attention is soon drawn to Dimmesdale, whom he set about tormenting relentlessly. In the end Chillingworth is morally degraded by his monomaniacal pursuit of revenge, and Dimmesdale, broken by his guilt, publicly confesses his adultery before dying in Hester's arms. Only the
Read the Work
The Scarlet Letter (1850)
Read the First Chapter
forthright and deeply sympathetic Hester can face the future bravely, as she plans to take her daughter Pearl to Europe to begin a new life. Dark and compelling in its symbolism, The Scarlet Letter is regarded as one of the supreme masterpieces of American literature.


Web sites about Nathaniel Hawthorne
Perspectives in American Literature: Nathaniel Hawthorne

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