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The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter


by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hester Prynne Timeline and Summary

  • Hester appears at the prison door with her 3-month-old baby in hand, wearing an elaborate letter A on her chest, like, way to show off, Hester.
  • She refuses to name her lover, even when she's being publicly shamed on the town scaffold.
  • In prison, Hester has a conversation with her estranged husband, who has taken an assumed name. Again, she refuses to name her lover but she agrees not to reveal Roger Chillingworth's true identity.
  • After the whole prison debacle, Hester sews for a living.
  • When she hears that the community might take her daughter Pearl away from her, she pleads for mercy.
  • Not-so-happy family Hester, Pearl, and Dimmesdale meet up accidentally at night outside the scaffolding, and Hester is shocked to see how bad Dimmesdale looks with all that guilt eating away at him.
  • She's also shocked by how evil Chillingworth has become, blames herself (obvs, the girl specializes in self-hate), and resolves to 'fess up to Dimmesdale.
  • Hester and Pearl find Dimmesdale in the forest. While Pearl plays, Hester and Dimmesdale resolve to run away together and make a life for themselves in the Old World, far away from Chillingworth's accusations.
  • Hester throws away the scarlet letter A and shakes her hair loose.
  • Dimmesdale is pretty into this (as are we), but Pearl isn't. She refuses to come to her mother until the scarlet letter's back on.
  • Ugh, fine: Hester realizes that she's right. As long as she's living in the community, she has to wear the letter.
  • Now it's Election Day, time for Dimmesdale's big send off.
  • Hester and Pearl are lurking off to the side, as always, when the commander of the ship that Hester and Dimmesdale plan to take to England approaches her and lets her know they have taken another passenger—Chillingworth.
  • Uh-oh.
  • After the sermon, Hester tries to stay out of the way, but Dimmesdale makes her help him up onto the scaffolding, where he confesses everything.
  • And then dies.
  • Hester and Pearl leave for the Old World. Hooray! Happy ending!
  • Until, that is, Hester comes back many years later and puts on the scarlet letter again, all on her own.
  • When she dies, Hester is buried near—but not too near—Dimmesdale.