186 . THE SCARLET LETTER . NATHANIEL HAWTHRONE
THE SCARLET LETTER
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‘The scarlet letter’ tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity.
In June 1638, in a Puritan Boston, Massachusetts, a crowd gathers to witness the punishment of Hester Prynne, a young woman who has given birth to a baby of unknown parentage. She is required to wear a scarlet “A” on her dress when she is in front of the townspeople to shame her. The letter “A” stands for adulteress, although this is never said explicitly in the novel. Her “punishment” (because adultery was illegal at the time) is to stand on the scaffold for three hours, exposed to public humiliation, and to wear the scarlet “A” for the rest of her life. As Hester approaches the scaffold, many of the women in the crowd are angered by her beauty and quiet dignity. When demanded and cajoled to name the father of her child, Hester refuses ……