The Scarlet Letter Summary by Shmoop
The Scarlet Letter, a la Shmoop.
My name is Hester Prynne, and 1642 really wasn’t my year. See, I had a child out of wedlock, and that
was a big no-no in puritanical Boston. People clutched their pearls and gnashed their
teeth over my sin… …and they made me wear a scarlet “A” on
my dress and stand on a scaffold for three hours. They kept asking me to name my daughter’s
father. Yeah, like I was gonna give up that juicy tidbit. Then, who should I spy in the crowd around
the scaffold but my long-lost husband. Guess he didn’t die in that shipwreck after all.
Reverend Wilson and Arthur Dimmesdale kept asking me to give up my boyfriend but nope,
sorry guys, no can do. Doctor Roger Chillingworth, aka my long-lost
husband, then showed up at my prison cell. He wanted to know who my boyfriend was. No
one in this town seems to get that my lips are sealed on the subject. At any rate, ol’ Roger told me that if I ever
told anyone we were married, he’d ruin my boyfriend-who-shall-not-be-named. Yet another
secret I have to keep. Once I got out of prison, I moved into a cottage
on the edge of Boston and eked out an existence doing needlework. I loved my little girl, Pearl, but she was
a handful, and she was fascinated by the scarlet “A” on my dress. As she grew older and more difficult, some people suggested she be taken away from me.
I went to plead my case with Governor Bellingham and the Reverends Wilson and Dimmesdale. Pearl
was in kind of a bad mood during the meeting… …and the men decided this meant she should
be raised by someone else. Fortunately, Dimmesdale sided with me in the
end… …and I got to keep Pearl.
It was around this time that Reverend Dimmesdale became ill, and my long-lost husband the physician
went to stay with him. One night, ol’ Roger did a little snooping,
and what did he find? A scarlet “A” on Arthur’s chest. Uh-oh, busted. Some odd astronomical activity and Arthur’s
obvious ill health led me to ask my long-lost husband to release me from my vow of silence
regarding our marriage. I also warned Roger that if he didn’t give
up the whole revenge thing, his soul would be lost.
A few days later, I revealed Chillingworth’s true identity and thirst for revenge to Arthur. I also talked Arthur into sailing for Europe
with Pearl and me, so we could start a new life together. I also took the “A” off of my dress. It
had been on there for years, and there was a stain I needed to Shout out.
But my plan didn’t work. Not only would Pearl not talk to me until I put the “A” back
on my dress… …but Arthur decided he was dying… …and the captain of the ship my little family
unit was supposed to sail on told me that Chillingworth had booked passage, too, so great. Election Day arrived, and Arthur gave an amazing
sermon. Seriously, best one of his career, hands down. He then told everyone he was Pearl’s
father… …and dropped dead in my arms. Ol’ Roger
decided he was tired of revenge, so he conveniently died, too, leaving a fortune to Pearl.
Several years have passed since the deaths of my long-lost husband and boyfriend, and
I’ve returned to Boston. I’m wearing my scarlet letter again… …but it doesn’t seem to carry the stigma
it once did, for the women of the town come to me for advice and comfort. Even so, I bet they’ll stick a big, red “A”
on my tombstone when I die.