Scarlet Letter By Hawthorne Appreciation

The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is considered to be one of
the greatest examples of true American literature. Its excellency of topic,
characterization, and description has made it a permanent part of our history.

Set in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1600s, it describes the life of Hester Prynne,
a Puritan woman whose existence is marred by sin. The real genius of the book is
found in its description. Hawthorne makes allusion, symbolism, and romanticism
work toward one effect, making the reader feel as if she was there, watching it
all happen, living through Hester\'s struggle. The story opens as a woman, Hester

Prynne, is leaving a jail and heading toward a large scaffold in the middle of

Salem town, where she, along with her newborn child, Pearl, is put on display as
an example to all the people, to discourage them from committing such a sin as
adultery. The sentence is given by a number of priests who feel compassion for
her because her husband had been thought dead for so many years. She is ordered
to wear a scarlet letter, "A" for adultery, on her breast for the
duration of her stay in Salem. She is perversely unwilling to leave the place of
her shame and outcast when she could easily have sailed away to England or to
anywhere else on earth and been rid of her "mark of Cain." At the
scaffold, she sees her husband, just arrived from Indian imprisonment, standing
in the crowd. He, naturally, is enraged by news of her unfaithfulness to him and
to his memory, but carries it too far when he renames himself Roger

Chillingworth and begins slowly to dismantle the sanity of her lover, the

Reverend Mr. Arthur Dimmesdale. Disguised as an apothecary, Chillingworth dwells
with Dimmesdale, supposedly to maintain his health, but really to sap his
strength and to serve as a reminder of the young reverend\'s sin. During the
seven-year duration of the book, Hester becomes steadily stronger because of her
mark, while Dimmesdale, forced to bear his brand internally, becomes very much
incapacitated, both mentally and physically. The face he puts on for public
approval and the one he wears while he is alone are so completely different that
they nearly drive him insane. He is harder on himself for committing the sin
than many a court of the time would have been, and it tears him apart. One day,
he meets Hester and Pearl while walking through the woods and, after talking for
a short while, they decide to leave Salem, to find a new life in the more
cultured, less ridged society of the Old World. The day before they are to
leave, Dimmesdale makes his last speech to his congregation. After the speech,
as the people are walking away from the meeting house in a parade, Arthur turns
to look at the scaffold, where he sees Hester and Pearl standing. He beckons
them toward him and then he asks her to assist him up to the scaffold. She does
so and there he announces his sin to all the town, there he rips off his shirt
front so they can see imagination\'s and emotion\'s brand on his chest, there he
collapses into Hester\'s arms, and there he dies. Hawthorne goes on to tell, in
short, the story of the rest of Hester\'s life, tough most of it appears to be
based on rumor. Chillingworth dies within a year of Dimmesdale, the object of
his hatred and his motivation for living being gone, leaving his fortune to

Pearl. She and Hester travel to Europe, where Pearl marries a member of the
nobility, but then returns to her old house to live and counsel others in their
times of pressing sorrow, and to bear the mark of the scarlet letter until she
dies. She is laid to rest in death where she had been kept for the first seven
years of Pearl\'s life, next to Arthur, yet unable to touch him, kept at a
distance so their dusts wouldn\'t mingle. One of the best aspects of this book is
its lack of superfluous events. Rather than tell the reader about every chance
meeting between Hester and Arthur, he chooses only a few, well-spaced events to
portray their entire relationship. The most vivid description in the book is one
of these chance meetings. Hester and Pearl chance to meet Arthur at the scaffold
late at night. He talks of how it is not possible for them to stand hand in hand
in broad daylight, how he cannot claim them