When you are assigned to write a Scarlet Letter essay, you may think that it's really all a bit too much – are you really supposed to have nothing better to do than reading about 200 pages of that book?
If that's your thinking, don't worry! There's an easier way to handle this paper. Simply check the following brief summary, best quotes and sample topics for this paper. And who knows, what if you will want to read this novel in full?
10 Sentences Book Summary for your Scarlet Letter Essay
To save your precious time, we’ve squeezed the entire plot in only 10 sentences. Enjoy:
The novel is set in the 17th century puritan Boston and starts with a young woman called Hester Prynne being taken out of prison to be subjected to public humiliation: she has to stand for three hours on a scaffold and wear a scarlet letter “A” on her dress. “A” stands for adultery, the “crime” for which Hester was sentenced and punished, as she has a young daughter, Pearl, whose father is not her husband.
The young woman came to Boston ahead of her scholar husband who never followed her (as everyone first thinks). Hester keeps the name of her child’s father in secret, despite the pressure of others who condemn her for it. Hester's missing husband comes to town just in time to witness his wife's humiliation and so he takes on the false name of Roger Chillingworth and secretly wants to take revenge for his wife’s adultery and public shame.
He correctly suspects Arthur Dimmensdale to be the father of the child, a young minister who’s the only one who tries to protect Hester from the cruel masses. The lovers want to escape to Europe and live together with Pearl as a family there, and they even manage to book tickets for a ship crossing the ocean to Europe.
However, on the day before their departure, at a parade in the town, when Arthur sees Hester and Pearl on the scaffold before the whole town, he impulsively confesses that he was Pearl’s father (he has the scarlet letter on his chest too) and then falls dead.
Shortly afterwards, Chillingworth dies too, leaving Pearl a large amount of money, with which she and Hester leave for Europe. Many years later, Hester comes back and lives in Boston providing solace to others, until she dies and is buried next to Dimmensdale, under a shared tombstone with the letter A on it.
Scarlet Letter Essay Topics
A few inspiring topic suggestions for you:
- The scarlet letter as a part of Hester’s identity.
- The puritan society as described in the book.
- Does this book convey feminists’ views?
- Pearl as a blessing, curse and conscience to her mother.
Scarlet Letter Essay: Most Important Quotes
- “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”
- “Love, whether newly born or aroused from a deathlike slumber, must always create sunshine, filling the heart so full of radiance, that it overflows upon the outward world.”
- “Hold thy peace, dear little Pearl!" whispered her mother. "We must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest.”
- “It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom.”
- “...if truth were everywhere to be shown, a scarlet letter would blaze forth on many a bosom...”
Scarlet Letter Essay: Final Tips
- use the Present Indefinite Tense;
- consider the rules of the required citation style;
- discuss the meaning of what happens in the book and how it is presented – don't just summarize the book!
So, that was all you needed to start your essay on Scarlet Letter. May the scarlet letter “A” be your grade for this paper!