The Scarlet Letter Essay

2423 words - 10 pages

The Scarlet Letter Introduction The Scarlet Letter is a classic tale of sin, punishment, and revenge. It was written in 1850 by the famous American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. It documents the lives of three tragic characters, each of whom suffer greatly because of his or her sins. Shot Plot The story begins with Hester Prynne, a resident of a small Puritan community, being led from the town jailhouse to a public scaffold where she must stand for three hours as punishment for adultery. She must also wear a scarlet A on her dress for the rest of her life as part of her punishment. As she is led to the scaffold, many of the women in the crowd complain that her sentence is too lenient and some even suggest she should be executed. We learn from the narrator that Hester arrived at the colony nearly two years earlier. She had been sent there ahead of her husband, while he remained in Amsterdam to finish up some business. Hester never heard heard from him again, and it was assumed that he had died at sea. Because of this, and the fact that Hester was very beautiful, and thus must have suffered great temptation, the judges decided to be lenient on her sentence. As Hester is standing on the platform with her illegitimate child, Pearl, in her arms, she sees her long lost husband in the crowd. Her husband, now known as Chillingworth, asks one of the townspeople why she is up there on the scaffold. The townsperson tells him of Hester's adultery and that the identity of her lover is unknown. Chillingworth vows that he will someday find out the unknown lover's identity. After Hester is returned to the prison, she is found to be in a state of nervous frenzy. The jailer brings in Chillingworth, who is a physician, to administer sedatives to her. While he is talking with Hester, Chillingworth admits that it was wrong of him to marry her, when he knew that she could never love him. When Chillingworth asks Hester the identity of her lover, she refuses to answer. Because of this, Chillingworth makes her promise never to reveal that he is her husband. After Hester is released from prison, she goes to live in a small cottage at the edge of town. After a few years, people begin to notice that her daughter, Pearl, behaves very strangely, and they threaten to take her away from Hester. Hester takes Pearl to Governor Bellingham's mansion planning to plead for the right to keep her daughter. At the mansion she is met by the governor and his three guests, Reverend Wilson, Reverend Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth. Reverend Dimmesdale convinces the governor to allow Hester to keep Pearl. Chillingworth, who has been living with Reverend Dimmesdale since his arrival in town, begins to suspect that Reverend Dimmesdale is the father of Pearl. One evening while Dimmesdale is sleeping, Chillingworth examines Dimmesdale's chest and finds something which confirms his suspicion. From this moment...

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