- Plot summary
The Scarlet Letter opens with a long preamble about how the book came to be written. The nameless narrator was the surveyor of the customhouse in Salem, Massachusetts. In the customhouses attic, he discovered a number of documents, among them a manuscript that was bundled with a scarlet, gold-embroidered patch of cloth in the shape of an A. The manuscript, the work of a past surveyor, detailed events that occurred some two hundred years before the narrators time. When the narrator lost his customs post, he decided to write a fictional account of the events recorded in the manuscript. The Scarlet Letter is the final product.
The story begins in seventeenth-century Boston, then a Puritan settlement. A young woman, Hester Prynne, is led from the town prison with her infant daughter, Pearl, in her arms and the scarlet letter A on her breast. A man in the crowd tells an elderly onlooker that Hester is being punished for adultery. Hesters husband, a scholar much older than she is, sent her ahead to America, but he never arrived in Boston. The consensus is that he has been lost at sea. While waiting for her husband, Hester has apparently had an affair, as she has given birth to a child. She will not reveal her lovers identity, however, and the scarlet letter, along with her public shaming, is her punishment for her sin and her secrecy. On this day Hester is led to the town scaffold and harangued by the town fathers, but she again refuses to identify her childs father.
The elderly onlooker is Hesters missing husband, who is now practicing medicine and calling himself Roger Chillingworth. He settles in Boston, intent on revenge. He reveals his true identity to no one but Hester, whom he has sworn to secrecy. Several years pass. Hester supports herself by working as a seamstress, and Pearl grows into a willful, impish child. Shunned by the community, they live in a small cottage on the outskirts of Boston. Community officials attempt to take Pearl away from Hester, but, with the help of Arthur Dimmesdale, a young and eloquent minister, the mother and daughter manage to stay together. Dimmesdale, however, appears to be wasting away and suffers from mysterious heart trouble, seemingly caused by psychological distress. Chillingworth attaches himself to the ailing minister and eventually moves in with him so that he can provide his patient with round-the-clock care. Chillingworth also suspects that there may be a connection between the ministers torments and Hesters secret, and he begins to test Dimmesdale to see what he can learn. One afternoon, while the minister sleeps, Chillingworth discovers a mark on the mans breast (the details of which are kept from the reader), which convinces him that his suspicions are correct.
Dimmesdales psychological anguish deepens, and he invents new tortures for himself. In the meantime, Hesters charitable deeds and quiet humility have earned her a reprieve from the scorn of the community. One night, when Pearl is about seven years old, she and her mother are returning home from a visit to a deathbed when they encounter Dimmesdale atop the town scaffold, trying to punish himself for his sins. Hester and Pearl join him, and the three link hands. Dimmesdale refuses Pearls request that he acknowledge her publicly the next day, and a meteor marks a dull red A in the night sky. Hester can see that the ministers condition is worsening, and she resolves to intervene. She goes to Chillingworth and asks him to stop adding to Dimmesdales self-torment. Chillingworth refuses. Hester arranges an encounter with Dimmesdale in the forest because she is aware that Chillingworth has probably guessed that she plans to reveal his identity to Dimmesdale. The former lovers decide to flee to Europe, where they can live with Pearl as a family. They will take a ship sailing from Boston in four days. Both feel a sense of release, and Hester removes her scarlet letter and lets down her hair. Pearl, playing nearby, does not recognize her mother without the letter. The day before the ship is to sail, the townspeople gather for a holiday and Dimmesdale preaches his most eloquent sermon ever. Meanwhile, Hester has learned that Chillingworth knows of their plan and has booked passage on the same ship. Dimmesdale, leaving the church after his sermon, sees Hester and Pearl standing before the town scaffold. He impulsively mounts the scaffold with his lover and his daughter, and confesses publicly, exposing a scarlet letter seared into the flesh of his chest. He falls dead, as Pearl kisses him.
Frustrated in his revenge, Chillingworth dies a year later. Hester and Pearl leave Boston, and no one knows what has happened to them. Many years later, Hester returns alone, still wearing the scarlet letter, to live in her old cottage and resume her charitable work. She receives occasional letters from Pearl, who has married a European aristocrat and established a family of her own. When Hester dies, she is buried next to Dimmesdale. The two share a single tombstone, which bears a scarlet A.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, 晧四郎 木畑
The Scarlet Letter, novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1850. The work centers on Hester Prynne, a married woman who is shunned after bearing a child out of wedlock but displays great compassion and resiliency. The novel is considered a masterpiece of American literature and a classic moral study.
Book Summary. In June 1642, in the Puritan town of Boston, a crowd gathers to witness an official punishment. A young woman, Hester Prynne, has been found guilty of adultery and must wear a scarlet A on her dress as a sign of shame. Furthermore, she must stand on the scaffold for three hours, exposed to public humiliation.
A child is born, and on the day Hester is publicly humiliated and made to wear a scarlet letter, her husband appears after a year with Indians. Calling himself Chillingworth (Robert Duvall), he seeks revenge, searching out Hester's lover and stirring fears of witchcraft. Will his murderous plot succeed?
Jul 09, 2019 · The Scarlet Letter In mid-17 th century Puritan Boston, then the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a local woman, Hester Prynne, is discovered to have had a child out of wedlock. This is a major offense in the extremely religious community.
- Plot summary
- Later life
Hester is being led to the scaffold, where she is to be publicly shamed for having committed adultery. Hester is forced to wear the letter A on her gown at all times. She has stitched a large scarlet A onto her dress with gold thread, giving the letter an air of elegance. Hester carries Pearl, her daughter, with her. On the scaffold she is asked to reveal the name of Pearl's father, but she refuses. In the crowd Hester recognizes her husband from Amsterdam, Roger Chillingworth. Chillingworth visits Hester after she is returned to the prison. He tells her that he will find out who the man was, and he will read the truth on the man's heart. Chillingworth then forces her to promise never to reveal his true identity as her cuckolded husband. A few weeks later, Hester sees Chillingworth picking herbs in the woods. She tells him that she is going to reveal the fact that he is her husband to Dimmesdale. He tells her that Providence is now in charge of their fates, and she may do as she sees fit. Hester takes Pearl into the woods, where they wait for Dimmesdale to arrive. He is surprised to see them, but he confesses to Hester that he is desperate for a friend who knows his secret. She comforts him and tells him Chillingworth's true identity. He is furious but finally agrees that they should run away together. He returns to town with more energy than he has ever shown before.
Hester moves into a cottage bordering the woods. She and Pearl live there in relative solitude. Hester earns her money by doing stitchwork for local dignitaries, but she often spends her time helping the poor and sick. Pearl grows up to be wild, even refusing to obey her mother.
When a meteor illuminates the three people standing on the scaffold, they see Roger Chillingworth watching them. Dimmesdale tells Hester that he is terrified of Chillingworth, who offers to take Dimmesdale home. Hester realizes that Chillingworth is slowly killing Dimmesdale and that she has to help Dimmesdale.
Hester finds a ship that will carry all three of them, and it works out that the ship is due to sail the day after Dimmesdale gives his Election Sermon. But on the day of the sermon, Chillingworth persuades the ship's captain to take him on board as well. Hester does not know how to get out of this dilemma.
Hester and Pearl leave the town for a while, and several years later Hester returns. No one hears from Pearl again, but it is assumed that she has gotten married and has had children in Europe. Hester never removes her scarlet letter, and when she passes away she is buried in the site of King's Chapel.
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The Scarlet Letter's moral is that people must accept and forgive their own and other people's worst qualities. To deny those qualities, as the Puritans do, is to deny one's identity.
The Scarlet Letter Summary. After a brief authorial digression about how his stuffy coworkers at the Custom House kept him from writing this book until he was fired, Hawthorne starts us off with a tour of the jail of the mid-17th century Massachusetts Bay Colony. Inside the jail is one Hester Prynne, an adulteress who's just about to be released from prison so that she can be paraded through town, displaying the scarlet "A" that she's been forced to wear as evidence of her adultery.
The Scarlet Letter Summary—Chapter 11: The Interior of a Heart Chillingworth continues to play mind games with Dimmesdale, making his revenge as terrible as possible. The minister often regards his doctor with distrust and even loathing, but because he can assign no rational basis to his feelings, he dismisses them and continues to suffer.