Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 historical novel The Scarlet Letter explores guilt, revenge, and redemption in colonial America. Hawthorne blends supernatural elements with psychological insight in his story of one woman’s public punishment for adultery. Explore a character analysis of Hester Prynne, plot summary, and important quotes.
Read our full plot summary and analysis of The Scarlet Letter, chapter by chapter breakdowns, and more.
See a complete list of the characters in The Scarlet Letter and in-depth analyses of Hester Prynne, Roger Chillingworth, Arthur Dimmesdale, Pearl, Governor Bellingham, and Mistress Hibbins.
Here's where you'll find analysis of the literary devices in The Scarlet Letter, from the major themes to motifs, symbols, and more.
Questions & Answers
Explore our selection of frequently asked questions about The Scarlet Letter and find the answers you need.
- Did Hester ever love Chillingworth?
- What type of work does Chillingworth take on in New England?
- What does Dimmesdale believe he sees when the meteor lights up the night sky?
- How does Pearl react when she first sees her mother without the scarlet A?
- What does Hester do after Dimmesdale’s death?
- What is the purpose of “The Custom-House”?
- What is the first clue that Dimmesdale is Pearl’s father?
- What are Hester Prynne’s secrets?
- What is Reverend Dimmesdale’s illness?
- Why is Roger Chillingworth called “the leech”?
- How does Hester Prynne’s reputation change in the course of the novel?
- What makes Hester and Reverend Dimmesdale finally feel hope about their future?
- Why does Hester choose the forest to meet Dimmesdale and Chillingworth?
- What events mark the novel’s climax?
- What does the last sentence of the novel mean?
Find the quotes you need to support your essay, or refresh your memory of The Scarlet Letter by reading these key quotes.
- Boston in the 1600s
Test your knowledge of The Scarlet Letter with quizzes about every section, major characters, themes, symbols, and more.
Get ready to ace your The Scarlet Letter paper with our suggested essay topics, helpful essays about historical and literary context, a sample A+ student essay, and more.
Go further in your study of The Scarlet Letter with background information, movie adaptations, and links to the best resources around the web.