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Hester Prynne, a young woman who carries in her arms a baby of about three months old, is led from the town prison. Upon the breast of her gown is the letter A in fine red cloth surrounded with intricate embroidery. Everyone’s eyes are upon the scarlet letter. She climbs up to the platform, where she is to stand in full display.

Hester is the wife of a learned man, who has sent her ahead in Massachusetts, while settling affairs in Europe. No news has come of the husband. They have been separated for two years, so the father of the baby remains a mystery—hence the punishment of standing three hours on the platform and wearing a mark of shame on her breast for the rest of her life.

Seven years pass and Hester’s daughter, whom she named Pearl, learns to talk and grows up sensing quite correctly that she and her mother are being talked about the scorn. Pearl, in turn, hates them with all her heart. She never seeks to befriend other children and she never answers when other people speak to her.

Hester quietly submits herself to the public’s worst treatment. She never seeks revenge for what she suffers, never asks for sympathy, and leads the life of purity during all the years she is being punished. But when she finds out that the father of her child is being torture by his conscience, she wants to do everything she can to rescue him even if it means revealing of a secret which for seven years she has agreed to keep.

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