The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is the fictionalized retelling of Jonathan Pue's account of Hester Prynne. The narrator, presumably Hawthorne, stumbles upon the actual Scarlet Letter, and the story behind it, on the abandoned second floor of his workplace, the Custom House. Hawthorne finds that the story is one of romance, scandal, and deceit, and decides to retell the tale to the public. Hawthorne and Pue's combined efforts have made the scarlet letter a cultural icon, and have created a literary classic. Through Nathaniel Hawthorne's words, people today are still mesmerized by the steadfastness of Hester Prynne, the ruthlessness of Roger Chillingworth, and the tortured soul of Arthur Dimmesdale.
Hester Prynne, the tragic heroin of The Scarlet Letter, is the mother of a bastard child, Pearl. For her sin of adultery Hester was condemned to wear a scarlet "A" to publicize her crimes. At first glance, Hester seems to be the most harshly punished sinner, but in truth, she experiences the least suffering.
The scarlet letter that sits perpetually on her chest, becomes a badge of her character, as she refuses to let society see the torment that it brings her. Hester Prynne is remorseful for her sins but chooses to not let them influence her life, in fact "many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman's strength (Hawthorne 114)." Hester deals with her sins better than Dimmesdale and Chillingworth, by remaining true to herself, and is ultimately rewarded for it.
Roger Chillingworth is the estranged husband of Hester Prynne. He is the antagonist of the novel, and the most sinful. While Hester and Dimmesdale have both desecrated thier vows, Chillingworth's "revenge has been blacker than [Dimmesdale's] sin. He...