The Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850. The story centers on Hester Prynne, a young woman who is publicly shamed and ostracized after she gives birth to an illegitimate child. Hawthorne explores isolation, despair, bleakness, deceit, evil, remorse, stigma, regret, shame, death, and revenge—told while exploring the wavering boundaries and expectations of women and men in early colonial American society. Of the myriad twisted human convolutions that unfold, some parts are as predictable as other parts are likely to remain forever a mystery–a true American classic.