Hester Prynne, a young wife whose husband has been missing for over a year, is accused of adultery following the birth of her infant daughter Pearl. In a shameful public ceremony, Hester is forced to stand on a scaffold for more than three hours and submit to an interrogation. She refuses to reveal the name of her child's father, which angers the Puritanical citizens of Boston. She is forced to wear a scarlet-colored A on her clothes to mark her as an adulteress.
Individuality and Conformity Themes and Colors LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Scarlet Letter, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. The Puritans believed people were born sinners.
Puritan preachers depicted each human life as suspended by a string over the fiery pit of hell. As a result, the Puritans maintained strict watch over themselves and their fellow townspeople, and sins such as adultery were punishable by death. Hester is spared execution only because the Puritans of Boston decided it would benefit the community to transform her into a "living sermon against sin.
Hester's transformation of the scarlet letter's meaning raises one of The Scarlet Letter's most important questions: What does it mean to sin, and who are the novel's real sinners?
Hester's defiant response to her punishment and her attempts to rekindle her romance with Dimmesdale and flee with him to Europe shows that she never considered her affair with Dimmesdale to be a sin. The narrator supports Hester's innocence and instead points the finger at the novel's two real sinners: Chillingworth's sin was tormenting Dimmesdale almost to the point of death; Dimmesdale's was abandoning Hester to lead a lonely life without the man she loved.
How often theme appears:The Scarlet Letter is a story that illustrates intricate pieces of the Puritan lifestyle. Centered first on a sin committed by Hester Prynne and her secret lover before the story ever begins, the novel details how sin affects the lives of the people involved.
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Scarlet Letter, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
The Puritans believed people were born sinners. Puritan preachers depicted each human life as suspended by a string over the fiery pit of hell.
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The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne Nathaniel Hawthorne's background influenced him to write the bold novel The Scarlet Letter. One important influence on . The Scarlet Letter Questions and Answers. The Question and Answer section for The Scarlet Letter is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.