'Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, - stern and wild ones, - and
they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss'
Set in the harsh
Puritan community of seventeenth-century Boston, this tale of an adulterous entanglement
that results in an illegitimate birth reveals Nathaniel Hawthorne's concerns with the
tension between the public and the private selves. Publicly disgraced and ostracized,
Hester Prynne draws on her inner strength and certainty of spirit to emerge as the first
true heroine of American fiction. Arthur Dimmesdale stands as a classic study of a self
divided; trapped by the rules of society, he suppresses his passion and disavows his
lover, Hester, and their daughter, Pearl.
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