Scarlet Letter, The - BookModern Library
Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction, #20 on The 100 Greatest Novels of All Time, #16 on The 100 Best Novels Written in English
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic American novel masterfully explores not only the historical and moral roots of America, but the terrible results of one sinful act upon all those involved. Hawthorne mixes Puritanism with the birth of Romanticism as he examines sin, guilt, vengeance, and redemption.
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 moral law, Hester is punished, though leniently for this time period. 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, returns on the very day Hester must endure her public humiliation. He decides to remain silent concerning his own identity but determines to seek revenge on Hester's lover.