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- Hester Prynne was a beautiful, young woman living in Amsterdam with her husband, Roger Chillingworth. He sent her you America alone while he finished his business. In America she met Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale who she had a love affair with. Pearl was the name of their child. When the townspeople found out about her sin, they punished her by making her wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ ,standing for adultery, on her bosom.
- Dimmesdale was a young reverend of the community. The people loved him, because of his emotional ways of speaking. He was Hester’s secret lover. He couldn’t live without being punished for his sins. Finally, he confess publicly, as soon as he did he died.
- Chillingworth was Hester’s husband. While traveling to America to join his wife he was capture by Indians. He finally reached America 2 years later. When he got there, Hester was already standing on the scaffold. He was seeking revenge on Dimmesdale, so he pretended to be his good friend trying to think of ways to torture him.
- Pearl was Hester and Dimmesdale’s daughter. She was given her name because she was precious and valuable. She was very clever, imaginative, and bratty. Pearl was a very significant character, because she reminded Hester of her sins and love affair.
- Governor Bellingham was like the political authority in Boston.
- Mistress Hibbins was Governor Bellingham’s sister. She was known as an evil witch. She had a bitter temper, because she worshiped the devil.
“The Scarlet Letter” begins in the seventeenth century in Boston. Back then Boston was a Puritan settlement. Hester Prynne is being escorted out from the town’s prison with her daughter, Pearl. Hester had a scarlet letter “A” on her bosom. Someone watching from the crowd was telling someone else that she is being punished for adultery.
Hester’s husband sent her to America, while he finished some business in Amsterdam. While Hester waits for him, she obviously had an affair and a child with her lover. She won’t tell anyone who her lover is. And her punishment is to wear the scarlet letter along with public humiliation for her sin and secret. Later, she is taken to the town scaffold and scolded by the town fathers. She still refuses to tell who the father of Pearl is.
Hester’s missing husband, now known as Roger Chillingworth, is now living in Boston as a doctor to take revenge on Hester‘s secret lover.
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Hester works as a seamstress to support herself and Pearl. Pearl is starting to act like a mischievous and stubborn girl. Rejected by the community, they live in a small house in the suburbs of Boston. Governor Bellingham and other officials wanted to have Pearl taken away from Hester, but Arthur Dimmesdale helps to keep them together.
Dimmesdale who is a young minister of the town is dying and has mysterious heart trouble caused by mental pains. Chillingworth moves in with Dimmesdale to help aid him with his problems. Chillingworth also thinks that he something to do with Hester’s secret. He starts to test Dimmesdale to see what he can get out of him. One day, Chillingworth sees a mark on the minister’s chest, while he was sleeping. This mark makes him think that his doubts were right. People thought that Mistress Hibbins was a witch. So, they thought that she tempted Hester and Dimmesdale to become more than just acquaintances with evil practices. Late, she was executed.
Hester’s generous actions and humility earned her a forgiveness for the torment by the community. One night, Hester and Pearl were walking home and saw Dimmesdale standing on the scaffold trying to punish himself for his sins. The two stood on the scaffold along with him. Then, Pearl asks him to speak to her in public the next day. Dimmesdale tell her that he can’t, as he says it a bright star marks an “A” in the sky. Hester notices Dimmesdale’s bad health. The next day, she asks Chillingworth to stop making Dimmesdale’s health worse than it already is. He refuses to back off.
Hester and Dimmesdale plan to secretly meet in the forest, because she knows that Chillingworth has guessed that she intends to tell Dimmesdale who Chillingworth really is. The two decide to leave Boston and move to Europe, where they can live as a family. They both feel a sense of relief, and Hester takes off the scarlet letter and takes down her hair. Pearl doesn’t recognize her, so she starts to throw a rant and cries. Hester explains to Pearl that she is her mother, finally she calms down.
The day before the ship leaves for Europe, the people of the town gather to hear Dimmesdale’s sermon. Hester finds out that Chillingworth knows about their plan and books a ticket for the same ship. After the sermon, Dimmesdale sees Hester and Pearl standing on the scaffold and joins them. He confesses his sins to the public and shows the scarlet letter on his chest. As soon as Pearl kisses him, he dies.
A year later, Chillingworth dies. Hester and Pearl leave Boston. Years later, Hester returns still wearing her scarlet letter, to live in her cottage and start working again. She gets letters from Pearl, occasionally, who’s married to a European nobleman. When Hester dies she’s buried next to Dimmesdale where they have a scarlet letter “A” on there tombstone.
Personally, I thought the book was very interesting. The story gives an informative description of how people reacted towards certain things. They chastise the person(s) who have committed a sin harshly. They go through humiliation, branding, and rejection by society. These are the things that Hester was put through. I don’t think it was right for Hester to be treated so rudely by everyone when Dimmesdale committed the sin along with her. He should’ve confessed his sins earlier even though he was punishing himself privately.