||Hawthorne's classic novel of guilt and redemption in pre-Revolutionary Boston provides vivid insight into the social and religious forces that shaped early America. A woman named Hester Prynne, having become pregnant while her husband was apparently lost at sea, is publicly shamed by being forced to wear a scarlet letter "A" across her chest at all times. Despite the torment and humiliation of the Puritan villagers, Hester refuses to identify the father of her daughter, Pearl, who becomes the flesh and blood symbol of her infidelity. Unbeknownst to the rest of the village, Hester's husband returns to take up residence in Boston under the assumed name of Roger Chillingworth, and he begins nurturing thoughts of revenge. Meanwhile, Hester's only supporter is a minister named Arthur Dimmesdale, who suffers terribly from a mysterious ailment. Eventually, Hester, Pearl, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale will come to realize that the weight of a public sin becomes easier to tolerate over time, while the burden of hidden guilt becomes so heavy that it will eventually crush the bearer.
||Introduction by Kathryn Harrison Commentary by Nathaniel Hawthorne, W. D. Howells, and Carl Van Doren 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 in her Introduction, Hester is ?the herald of the modern heroine.? Includes a Modern Library Reading Group Guide