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The Scarlet Letter Synopsis

  • Date Submitted: 07/15/2010 10:01 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 63 
  • Words: 745
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The Scarlet Letter is a novel consisting of twenty-four chapters which are told by a nameless narrator. There is an introductory chapter, which explains how the book was written. It is revealed that the narrator was the surveyor of the customhouse in Salem, Massachusetts.   In the customhouse’s attic, he discovered a manuscript that was bundled with a scarlet, gold-embroidered patch of cloth in the shape of an “A.” The manuscript, the work of a past surveyor, detailed events that occurred some two hundred years before the narrator’s time. When the narrator lost his customs post, he decided to write a fictional account of the events recorded in the manuscript. The Scarlet Letter is the final product.
      The story begins in seventeenth-century Puritan Boston. A young woman, Hester Prynne, is led from the town prison with her infant daughter, Pearl; in her arms and the scarlet letter “A” on her breast. A man in the crowd tells an elderly onlooker that Hester is being punished for “a great scandal” , adultery. Hester’s husband sent her ahead to America, but he never arrived in Boston. The assumption is that he has been lost at sea. While waiting for her husband, Hester apparently had an affair, as she has given birth to a child. However, she would not reveal her lover’s identity                
      The elderly onlooker is Hester’s missing husband, who is now practicing medicine and calling himself Roger Chillingworth and is intent on revenge. He reveals his true identity to no one but Hester. Several years pass. Hester supports herself by working as a seamstress, and Pearl grows into a wild child. Shunned by the community, they live in a small cottage on the outskirts of Boston. Community officials attempt to take Pearl away from Hester, but, with the help of Arthur Dimmesdale, a young and intelligent minister, the mother and daughter manage to stay together. Dimmesdale, however, appears to be wasting and has “[symptoms] of some ailment in the spiritual part”...


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