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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

This is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s greatest work. Its central theme is so current that it is always recommended reading. We invite you to download a copy of The Scarlet Letter in PDF format below.

This novel was published in 1850 and is set in 17th-century New England. In it, we can appreciate the path of Hester Prynne, a free-spirited woman who commits adultery.

The conservative and harsh society she has to face will exert on her a punishment that will mark her forever.

Human beings throughout history have faced social punishment, in one way or another, so this work does not lose its relevance.

The Scarlet Letter has transcended time for many reasons, but this is perhaps the most important.

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The Scarlet Letter in PDF Format

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Summary of The Scarlet Letter

Hester Prynne faces public scorn in the summer of 1642. She has had a daughter out of wedlock, reason enough to be punished.

So far, it is unknown who the father is, but the trial goes ahead. The decision had no surprises: she was accused of adultery and forced to wear the scarlet “A” for adulteress on her dress.

Then begins the ordeal of Hester, who is forced to stay 3 hours in front of the crowd as a measure of pressure to confess the name of the father. However, the woman refuses to reveal it.

Meanwhile, Hester’s husband, who had been at sea for some time, returns to witness his wife’s sentencing. He is not pleased, as he wants the girl’s father to be punished as well.

Seeing that he would get no information on the identity of the man who caused his misfortune, he decides to hatch a plan to catch him. From that moment on, he would pretend to be doctor Roger Chillingworth in order to find out who he was.

While in prison, Hester is visited by her husband, who threatens to make her daughter’s father’s life hell if she reveals his true identity.

After being released from prison, Hester goes to live on the outskirts of Boston, where she lives a modest life as a seamstress with her daughter Pearl. As she grows up, the girl becomes rebellious due to social rejection.

The church, observing Pearl’s behavior, concludes that she should be taken away from her mother as a negative influence on the young girl.

Hester then turns to Reverend Dimmesdale in a desperate attempt to avoid separation. Dimmesdale succeeds in convincing the governor and, finally, Pearl remains with her mother.

However, the Reverend becomes ill and Chillingworth moves into his home to attend to him as a “physician”. There he notices that Dimmesdale has clear symptoms of remorse and begins to suspect that this could be Pearl’s father.

Indeed, she corroborates this when she sees a birthmark on the clergyman. From then on, the most unfortunate events of the novel are unleashed, culminating in a profound misfortune.

FAQ about The Scarlet Letter

What is the meaning of the Scarlet letter?

The scarlet letter “A” stands for “Adultery”. It is a punishment meted out to Hester for having conceived a daughter with a man who was not her husband. She is forced to wear it embroidered on her dress as a humiliation for what she did. This causes her to experience social repudiation and, as a consequence, to live in the shadows.

How does The Scarlet Letter end?

Finally, Dimmesdale’s conscience does not let him live in peace and he ends up in the pillory confessing that he was Pearl’s father. This happens after giving a speech on the occasion of the election. Later, he dies in Hester’s arms. Over the years she returns to the cottage where she lived with Pearl, returns to wearing the scarlet letter, and upon her death is buried next to Dimmesdale.

What is the central theme of The Scarlet Letter?

It might seem that the central theme of the book is adultery, however, this is not the case. The backbone of The Scarlet Letter is the social condemnation that people like Hester must live through for making a human error and how justice systems can end someone’s life.

Who is Pearl’s father?

Pearl’s father is Reverend Dimmesdale, whose motives for becoming Hester’s lover are unknown. It could just be the affection he felt for her. In fact, nothing is known of that romance, as the novel begins with Hester’s public trial and subsequent conviction.