(July 4, 1804, Salem, Mass., U.S.— May 19, 1864, Plymouth, N.H.)
U.S. novelist and short-story writer. Descended from Puritans, Hawthorne was imbued with a deep moral earnestness. His story collections include Twice-Told Tales (1837), Mosses from an Old Manse (1846), and The Snow-Image (1851). He is best known for the novels The Scarlet Letter (1850), a story of adultery set in colonial New England considered to be one of the best American novels, and The House of the Seven Gables (1851), the story of a family that lives under a curse for generations. His later works include The Blithedale Romance (1852) and The Marble Faun (1860). A skilled literary craftsman and a master of allegory and symbolism, he ranks among the greatest American fiction writers.
The Scarlett Letter
The Scarlet Letter was published in 1850. It is considered a masterpiece of American literature and a classic moral study.
The novel is set in a village in Puritan New England. Hester Prynne is a young woman who has borne a child out of wedlock. Hester believes herself a widow, but her husband, Roger Chillingworth, returns to New England very much alive and conceals his identity. He finds his wife forced to wear the scarlet letter A on her dress as punishment for her adultery. Chillingworth becomes obsessed with finding the identity of his wife’s former lover. When he learns that the father of Hester’s child is Arthur Dimmesdale, a saintly young minister who is the leader of those exhorting her to name the child’s father, Chillingworth proceeds to torment the guilt-stricken young man.
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