SummaryThe novel opens with Hester, the protagonist, being led to the scaffold where she is to be publicly shamed for having committed adultery.
Hester is forced to wear the letter "A" on her gown at all times. Hester carries Pearl, her daughter, with her. While in public, she recognizes her husband from Amsterdam,Roger Chillingworth, the antagonist. Chillingworth visits Hester after she is returned to the prison.
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He tells her that he will find out who the man was. He then forces her to promise never to reveal his true identity. Hester moves into a cottage bordering the woods. She and Pearl live there in loneliness. Roger Chillingworth earns a reputation as being a good physician. He uses his reputation to get into the same home asArthur Dimmesdale , a minister.
Chillingworth eventually discovers that Dimmesdale is the true father of Pearl, at which point he spends every moment trying to make the minister suffer.Hester realizes that Chillingworth is slowly killing Dimmesdale, and that she has to help him. A few weeks later Hester sees Chillingworth picking herbs in the woods. She tells him that she is going to reveal the fact that he is her husband to Dimmesdale. He tells her that she may do as she sees fit. Hester takes Pearl into the woods where they wait for Dimmesdale to arrive. She comforts Dimmesdale as she wants to be friends and tells him Chillingworth's true identity. He is angered, but convinces him that they should run away together.
Hester finds a ship which will carry all three of them, and it works out that the ship is due to sail the day after Dimmesdale gives his Election Sermon. However, during the day of the sermon, Chillingworth gets the ship's captain to agree to take him on board as well. After Dimmesdale gives his sermon he unexpectedly walks to the scaffold and stands on it. Dimmesdale calls Hester and Pearl to come to him. Chillingworth tries to stop him, but Dimmesdale laughs and tells him that he cannot win. Hester and Pearl join Dimmesdale on the scaffold.
Dimmesdale then tells the people that he is also a sinner like Hester, and that he should have assumed his rightful place by her side over seven years earlier. He then rips open his shirt to reveal a scarlet letter on his flesh. Dimmesdale falls to his knees and dies while on the scaffold. Hester and Pearl leave the town for a while, and several years later Hester returns. No one hears from Pearl again, but it is assumed that she gets married and has children in Europe. Hester never removes her scarlet letter, and when she passes away she is buried in Kings' Chapel.CharactersHester Prynne is the main character of The Scarlet Letter. Hester is also the protagonist of the novel.
She is the mother of Pearl, and is the woman who must wear the scarlet letter. She is the wife of Roger Chillingworth, but Arthur Dimmesdale is Pearl's father. Hester suffers the public humiliation of having to wear the letter "A" on her chest for committing adultery. She lives in Boston until her death.
Hester changes soon after her affair with Dimmesdale and begins to think much more.She becomes independent and loving and also develops thoughts different from other people.Her character improves after her affair overall.Roger Chillingworth is Hester's husband from the Netherlands. Chillingworth is also the antagonist of the novel.Chillingworth arrives in Boston the day that Hester is publicly shamed and forced to wear the scarlet letter. He swears to get revenge on the father of Pearl, and soon thereafter moves in with Arthur Dimmesdale.
His revenge is rendered ineffective at the end when Dimmesdale reveals that he is Pearl's father before dying. Chillingworth, having lost the source of his hatred and anger, dies soon thereafter.In this novel, Chillingworth represents evil in that he wants to harm others and his main interest is seeking revenge.