Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter is a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, first published in 1850. It is based on the author's own experience, when working at the Custom House in Salem, of finding the scarlet letter and documentation relating to it.

Warning: Spoilers follow

The story is set in the 17th century, and concerns a young married woman, Hester Prynne, who has a baby, named Pearl, by her lover and is publicly vilified and forced to wear the scarlet letter "A" on her clothing to identify her as an adulteress. The reader of the novel will quickly realize that the father of Hester's child is Arthur Dimmesdale, the town minister. Hester's husband, named Roger Chillingworth, disguises himself as a doctor and carries out his revenge on Dimmesdale who comes down with an illness as a result of the sin that he has not confessed. Dimmesdale is oblivious of Chillingworth's true identity until Hester tells him near the end of the novel.

A 1995 dramatisation, directed by Roland Joffé, starred Demi Moore as Hester.

External Link