The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

“...if truth were everywhere to be shown, a scarlet letter would blaze forth on many a bosom...”

“…if truth were everywhere to be shown, a scarlet letter would blaze forth on many a bosom…”

Written in 1850 but set in 1642, The Scarlet Letter is the story of Hester Prynne, a single mother in puritanical Boston.  Hester was married, but her husband is presumed dead, missing at sea on his voyage over to the USA and so, when she has a child out of wedlock it’s too much for the puritans to accept.  She is punished publicly, forced to stand on public display for several hours and then imprisoned.  Furthermore, for the rest of her life she must wear a red letter A on all her clothes (A for Adulterer).

Whilst on public display Hester spots her ‘dead’ husband in the crowd.  He enquires what her crime is, and, unable to bear the shame, he assumes a new identity, Roger Chillingworth.  Chillingworth poses as a physician and, together with Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, visits Hester in prison in order to question her about the child’s father.  Hester refuses to speak.  In private, Chillingworth then tells her that if she ever reveals his true identity he will find and kill the child’s father. SO, WHO’S THE DADDY?

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