"A pure hand needs no glove to cover it."
Hester Prynne is condemned to wear the scarlet embroidered letter A on her breast, as punishment for her adultery. She resists all attempts of the 17th Century Boston clergy to make her reveal the name of her child’s father. Her husband, an old physician who had remained in Europe, arrives in America to see her on the pillory. Assuming the name of Roger Chillingworth, he seeks revenge …
So begins the chain of events in the story often referred to as ‘The First Great American Novel.’ A stark tale of adultery, guilt, and social repression in Puritan New England, The Scarlet Letter is a foundational work of American literature. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s exploration of the dichotomy between the public and private self, internal passion and external convention, gives us the unforgettable Hester Prynne, who discovers strength in the face of ostracism and emerges as a heroine ahead of her time. As Kathryn Harrison points out, Hester is “the herald of the modern heroine.”
*Includes image gallery.