Scarlet Letter

Scarlet Letter


The Scarlet Letter is set in the seventeenth century, puritanical, New England colony of Massachusetts. The complete action is set in the town of Boston with the scenes shifting within it. The crucial scaffold scenes are set in the market place, while the decisive meeting of Hester and Dimmesdale is set in the forest. The novel, however, opens with a prison setting, foreshadowing the future seclusion, gloominess and condemnation of the


The central theme of the novel is that unconfessed sin destroys the soul. Hesters sin of adultery has been confessed, and as its symbol, she wears the Scarlet Letter A. As a result, the sin does not destroy her inward spirit; instead, she gathers her strength and courage, and flourishes in spite of the Letter A. In total contrast to Hester, Dimmesdale does not confess his sin until after it totally destroys him. He hides his adultery and fails to claim Pearl as his daughter; his punishment is guilt and self- condemnation, intensified by the torture of Chillingworth. As the shame over his cowardice increases, he suffers total deterioration, both mental and physical. Only when he publicly confesses his adultery and stands openly with Hester and Pearl in

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