HESTER PRYNNE Biography - Fictional, Iconical & Mythological characters


Biography » fictional iconical mythological characters » hester prynne


Name: The Scarlet Letter                                                               
The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850, is an American novel written by Nathaniel       
Hawthorne and is generally considered to be his magnum opus. Set in Puritanical       
Boston in the seventeenth century, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who           
gives birth after committing adultery, refuses to name the father, and struggles       
to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the novel, Hawthorne       
explores the issues of grace, legalism, sin, and guilt.                               
The story of The Scarlet Letter is framed by a preface (called "The Custom-House")     
in which the narrator, a surveyor in the Custom House, claims to have found           
documents and papers that substantiate the evidence concerning Prynne and her         
situation. The narrator says that when he touched the letter it gave off a "burning   
heat...as if the letter were not of red cloth, but red hot iron." Among these         
documents, the narrator claims to have found the death certificate of Anne             
Hutchinson, previously believed to have been destroyed by the Puritan church           
leaders as they tried to cover up her brutal murder two years earlier. The             
manuscript, the work of a past surveyor, Jonathan Pue, detailed the events of         
the trials of Hutchinson's alleged murderers. When the narrator lost his post,         
he decided to write a fictional account of the events recorded in the manuscript.     
The Scarlet Letter is the final product.                                               
Historically, Nathaniel Hawthorne worked in the Custom House in Salem,                 
Massachusetts for several years, eventually losing his job as a result of an           
administration change. There is no factual basis for the documents described in       
the book, however, and the preface is properly read as a literary device.             
Introductions that justify the fantastic content to come were a typical device         
in romance.