Scarlet Letter, The - Study Guide
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Hester Prynne has traveled alone to America to prepare a home for herself and her husband. In her husband's long absence Hester commits adultery and gives birth to a child. In accordance with the town's strict biblical law, Hester is punished, though leniently for that time in the colony. She is sentenced to stand for several hours on the town's scaffold exposed to public shame and to wear a scarlet "A" for the rest of her life. Hester's partner in sin, a prominent member of the community, remains silent about his own guilt, and Hester refuses to reveal his identity. Meanwhile, Hester's long-absent husband, Roger Chillingworth, returning on the very day Hester must endure her public humiliation decides to remain silent concerning his own identity but determines to seek revenge on Hester's lover. Hawthorne mixes Puritanism with the birth of Romanticism as he examines sin, guilt, vengeance, and redemption.