As Hester looks out over the crowd, she notices a small, misshapen man and recognizes him as her long-lost husband, who has been presumed lost at sea.When the husband sees Hester's shame, he asks a man in the crowd about her and is told the story of his wife's adultery.He angrily exclaims that the child's father, the partner in the adulterous act, should also be punished and vows to find the man.
The Reverend John Wilson and the minister of Hester's church, Arthur Dimmesdale, question the woman, but she refuses to name her lover.
After she returns to her prison cell, the jailer brings in Roger Chillingworth, a physician, to calm Hester and her child with his roots and herbs.
He and Hester have an open conversation regarding their marriage and the fact that they were both in the wrong.
Her lover, however, is another matter and he demands to know who it is; Hester refuses to divulge such information.
Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, Massachusetts, during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity.
Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.
In this painting, The Scarlet Letter by Hugues Merle, Hester Prynne and Pearl are in the foreground and Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth are in the background (painting by Hugues Merle, 1861).
In June 1642, in the Puritan town of Boston, a crowd gathers to witness the punishment of Hester Prynne, a young woman found guilty of adultery.
She is required to wear a scarlet "A" ("A" standing for adulteress) on her dress to shame her.