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The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

Set in Colonial Boston in the mid-1600s, The Scarlet Letter tells the story of Hester Prynne, who has committed adultery and must wear a scarlet "A" publicly as punishment. When her husband, whom she believed to be dead, suddenly reappears, he determines to discover the identity of the father of Hester's child, although Hester steadfastly refuses to reveal his identity. Through the use of rich symbolism and supernatural events, Hawthorne shows the destructive effects of guilt and revenge.

Related Readings

"Young Goodman Brown"—short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne

"The Tell-Tale Heart"—short story by Edgar Allan Poe

"Each and All"—poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Scarlet Letter—oil painting by T. H. Matteson

"Tears Like Diamond Stars" from How to Make an American Quilt—excerpt from the novel by Whitney Otto

Study Guide (PDF)


McGraw-Hill / Glencoe