Book Report Essay

Submitted By MTW2015
Words: 1782
Pages: 8

Michaela Williams
Mr. Juhasz
English IV AP
23 Feb. 2014
The Scarlet Letter Book Report
Plot Summary
The book, The Scarlet Letter, starts with a 34 page introduction to the origin of how the novel came to be. The narrator, who stays anonymous, was an examiner of the Custom House in Salem, Massachusetts, the city in which the story is set. The narrator states, “But one idle and rainy day, it was my fortune to make a discovery of some little interest.” He had started to go through many of the many collected items up in the attic. However, he “chanced to lay [his] hand on a small package, carefully done up in a piece of ancient yellow parchment.” This package contained the scarlet letter “A” and a manuscript that documented events in detail as they had happened roughly two hundred years before this discovery. The Scarlet Letter is the fictional account of the events recorded in the manuscript that our anonymous narrator happened upon. The story begins with the public shaming of the main character, Hester Prynne, because she committed the terrible sin of adultery. She is led out of the jail and made to stand upon the scaffold for three hours, as to make an example of what happens to adulteresses. Furthermore, she is forced to wear the scarlet letter “A” embroidered on her chest to shame her for the rest of her life. While standing on the scaffold, Hester is asked repeatedly to identify her partner in sin, and she continuously refuses to reveal his name. Hester scans the crowd and recognizes a smaller, elder man as her husband, who was supposedly lost at sea. He asks what she is being punished for and a man tells him adultery. Hester’s husband decides to find the man and changes his name to Roger Chillingworth to help his plan. Hester returns to the prison to finish her sentence. However, both she and the child are very uneasy, and the jailer brings in Roger Chillingworth to treat them. Chillingworth asks the name of the child’s father, and after Hester refuses to admit it, he makes her promise him to never tell anyone that he is her husband. He gives her an incentive to do so, he states that he will destroy the child’s father if she reveals that fact to anyone. Once Hester is released from prison, she moves into a cottage on the outskirts of town and lives a quiet life with her daughter, Pearl. She works as a seamstress and worries about her daughter’s well-being. As Pearl grows older, she becomes more attached to the scarlet letter and becomes wilder, and church members contemplate taking her away from Hester. So, Hester goes to Reverend Dimmesdale, the young minister, and with his help mother and daughter are allowed to stay together. Roger Chillingworth takes up residence with Reverend Dimmesdale as a result of the reverend’s failing health. Chillingworth’s close connection to Dimmesdale on a regular basis, leads him to think that Dimmesdale’s illness is the product of feeling guilt. After some time, Chillingworth begins to suspect Dimmesdale to be Pearl’s father, and starts to pressure him psychologically in order to dig deeper into what he thought happened between the reverend and Hester. Dimmesdale’s mental health worsens at each days passing. Hester continues to try and make her name more honorable by completing charitable deeds. Hester and Pearl happen upon Reverend Dimmesdale one night atop the scaffold, attempting to punish himself for his sins. Hester and Pearl join him, and Hester tries to convince Dimmesdale to admit his sin publicly. As he refuses her request, they spot a giant meteor in the night sky, which happens to mare an “A”. Hester decides to meet with Dimmesdale, several days later, in the forest to reveal Chillingworth and to make plans for the future. They decide to go to Europe so they can start living like a family. Hester removes the letter and lets her hair down after this meeting. Not long after, she discovers that Chillingworth has booked passage on the same ship. The day before they