Before starting The Scarlet Letter Summary let’s discuss the book writer. Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in July 4, 1804 and died in May 19, 1864. He wrote this romance play novel in 1850. This novel is based on a true Story. Nathaniel Hawthorne was a American Author and he wrote The Scarlet Letter Book on a true story.
The Scarlet Letter Summary By Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter Chapter 1
In mid-seventeenth century Boston, a young wife gives birth to a child that not her husband’s. she confesses her sin but finds that honesty is sometimes punished far worse than lying. The story’s narrator, who works at the Salem Custom House, claims to have found both this story and a letter “A” made of red cloth hidden in the Custom House. The story begins in Boston, June 1642, townspeople gather outside the door of the prison. It’s grim except for the bright red roses growing beside the door.
The Scarlet Letter Summary: A young wife named Hester Prynne walks out through that door, carrying her three-month-old daughter, Pearl. Hester is charged with adultery, for her husband has been missing at sea for two years. Hester wears a red letter A on her chest but the women watching say she should have been punished more harshly. Hester is led to the pillory, a wooden stand where criminals are held up to public ridicule. She holds Pearl very tightly and the child begins to cry. Hester sees an elderly, misshapen man watching her in the crowd. She refuses to name the child’s father even when the pastor, Reverend Dimmesdale, demands to know. The townspeople insist they see a devilish glow coming from Hester’s scarlet letter.
The Scarlet Letter Summary Chapter 2
Back in Hester’s prison cell, the elderly stranger turns out to be her missing husband. He calls himself Roger Chillingworth and gives her medicine for herself and the baby. She’s suspicious, but he says she shouldn’t worry. He wants her alive to suffer for her crime. Chillingworth says he’ll learn the father’s name eventually. In the meantime, he wants Hester to say nothing about him being her husband. She agrees. Hester is released and goes to live with Pearl in a cottage on the edge of town, supporting herself with needlework. She is shunned and ridiculed, and soon feels others should have letters sewn to their garments for the crimes they’ve committed but lied about.
The Scarlet Letter Summary: Pearl grows to be a pretty but headstrong seven-year-old. Some people insist she is the offspring of demons, and even Hester believes the child’s face appears devilish whenever Pearl looks at the scarlet letter. Hester hears that authorities want to take Pearl away for a better upbringing. Hester says Pearl is her happiness and punishment all in one and keeps her from straying again, so the child is allowed to stay with Hester for now. Then Hester meets Mistress Hibbens, the governor’s sister and a worshipper of the “Black Man,” Satan.
The Scarlet Letter Summary Chapter 3
She invites Hester to a gathering to worship the devil, but Hester refuses – for Pearl’s sake if nothing else. Chillingworth notes that Reverend Dimmesdale constantly suffers chest pain. The two unmarried men share a home for a time, though Chillingworth sometimes has an ugly, evil look on his face and his bad influence is haunting Dimmesdale. They discuss how most people feel better after confessing sin, but Dimmesdale only clutches his chest again. Later, when Dimmesdale falls asleep reading, Chillingworth lifts the book from his chest and looks beneath the man’s shirt – and gets the proof he’s been looking for.
The Scarlet Letter Summary: Chillingworth begins plotting his revenge on Dimmesdale, who’s been revealed as Pearl’s father. But the reverend is already torturing himself into serious illness with the guilt he’s carrying. Hester knows that Dimmesdale’s conscience torments him, and that Chillingworth is his enemy. She decides to help Dimmesdale if he can. The townspeople respect for Hester for her repentant behavior. But her humiliation and shunning have hardened her against ever feeling gentleness again, as a woman should. The loss makes her feel suicidal. She even considers taking Pearl with her though she finally decides against this.
The Scarlet Letter Summary Chapter 4
Perhaps helping the suffering Dimmesdale will allow her to save herself, as well. Chillingworth tells Hester she may be allowed to remove the scarlet letter soon. She refuses that when she is worthy it will fall off on its own. His appearance has changed from a decent man to one with a dark and evil heat, the tormentor of Dimmesdale for the last seven years. Hester blames herself for Chillingworth’s transformation, since she betrayed him. Hester says she’s ready to publically reveal that Dimmesdale is Pearl’s father, since her silence has let Chillingworth ruin the man’s life. She asks him again to forgive Dimmesdale, but he refuses. Hester and Pearl encounter Dimmesdale walking through the woods.
The Scarlet Letter Summary: Peals asks if he holds his hand over his heart because the “Black Man,” Satan, left his mark there. Hester silences Pearl but feels pity for Dimmesdale, who looks more haggard and ill all the time. Hester and Dimmesdale ask each other if they’ve found peace. Hester only looks at her scarlet letter. Dimmesdale says no, that as a minister he is a hypocrite.
The Scarlet Letter Summary: Realizing that guilt is destroying him, Hester tells Dimmesdale that Chillingworth is actually her husband. Hester offers to go away with Dimmesdale and start a new life. She pulls off the scarlet letter and throws it down on the forest floor. He accepts, and the sun finally comes out. Pearl joins them, wearing leaves and flowers. But Pearl soon rejects Dimmesdale’s company and wants to be only with her mother – and wants her to put scarlet letter back on, so that everything is as it’s always been.
The Scarlet Letter Summary Chapter 5
Hester books passage on ship back to England for the three of them. They will leave in four days, after Dimmesdale’s final sermon on Election Sunday. Yet Dimmesdale is unnerved about this decision to leave with Hester and Pearl and wonders if he hasn’t made a deal with the devil after all. Election Sunday is a day of thanksgiving, but Pearl is acting wilder than ever. Then the captain of the Bristol ship informs Hester that Chillingworth has also booked passage for the same voyage. Dimmesdale is looking far more alive than he was in the forest.
The Scarlet Letter Summary: Hester, Pearl, and Mistress Hibbens all notice the change in him. The Mistress tells Hester that though Hester might wear her scarlet letter on the outside, a sinner like Dimmesdale wears his on the inside. Both of them are marked. Dimmesdale delivers a fiery sermon, but afterwards seems drained and even dying. He gets on the scaffold with Hester and Pearl says he knows of something far worse than Hester’s sin.
The Scarlet Letter Summary Last Chapter
Dimmesdale rips open his shirt to display a red letter A, carved into his own chest and then he collapses and dies. The narrator of the story concludes that it’s better to be honest, even about the worst sins, then to hide wrongdoing. Roger Chilling worth dies not long after and leaves his property to Pearl, making her very wealthy. Pearl and her mother leave for England. But many years, Hester returns alone to her old cottage. She still wears her scarlet letter, but this time as a badge of honesty rather than shame. Hester spends her remaining years helping other women with the wisdom she’s gained. When Hester dies, she is buried next to Dimmesdale. Her gravestone has a scarlet letter engraved on it.
The Scarlet Letter Characters
Hester Prynne, Roger Chillingworth, Governor Richard Bellingham, Arthur Dimmesdale, Pearl Prynne
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let’s discuss some Famous Quotes of The Scarlet Letter Summary
The Scarlet Letter Quotes by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- We dream in our waking moments, and walk in our sleep.
- She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.
- Love, whether newly born or aroused from a deathlike slumber, must always create sunshine, filling the heart so full of radiance, that it overflows upon the outward world.
- She could no longer borrow from the future to ease her present grief.
- Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart!
- Do anything, save to lie down and die!
- Hold thy peace, dear little Pearl!” whispered her mother. “We must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest.
- There are many things in this world that a child must not ask about.
- The sorrow that lay cold in her mother’s heart… converted it into a tomb.
- t is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom.