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The scarlet letter means infidelity. To wear it marks you as a sinner, a corruptor, and an outcast. The scarlet “A” that Hester Prynne is forced to wear not only marks her as an adulterer, but to her it becomes something more: a spiritual a wakening.
In a mid-17th century Puritan colony in Massachusetts, Hester walks out of prison carrying her daughter, Pearl, born behind prison walls. Her husband, thought to be lost at sea, arrives in town secretly watches his wife’s shaming from a distance with a heavy heart. Hester’s lover is tormented with guilt over his affair and over the daughter he will never be able to raise, and he reveals a dying act of regret for the entire town to witness.
A marvelous depiction of haunting memories, sin, and the consequences thereof, The Scarlet Letter is one of Hawthorne’s greatest works of art.