Study the synopsis (summary) of each chapter on Sparknotes for The Scarlet Letter, descriptions of the adversities and overcoming adversities (outlined below), the major characters and their characterization (see below the chapter outlines). Refer to our in-class notes and know real evidence from The Scarlet Letter that support the themes of adversities and overcoming adversities.

CHAPTER 1 (The Prison-Door):

  • Adversity=Crime has always been around
  • Overcoming Adversity=rose-bush is "sweet moral blossom" and "human frailty and sorrow" (offering hope and comfort for the prisoners)

    CHAPTER 2 (The Market-Place):

  • Adversities=Gossip about Hester Prynne, Hester has brought shame upon all women, Hester is ostracized (treated as an outcast) by wearing the scarlet letter "A" in the market-place
  • Overcoming Adversities=Hester is lady-like, appears proper in dress, fortifies herself and daydreams of her childhood

    CHAPTER 3 (The Recognition):

  • Adversities=Gossip about Hester, Hester's punishment of standing on the platform in the marketplace for three hours every day, the "ignominious letter engraved upon her tombstone" (p. 58),
  • Overcoming Adversities=Hester's refusal to reveal the father of her child (knowledge is power), Hester's "air of weary indifference" (p. 63)--showing she doesn't care as she's on the "pedestal of shame" (p. 63)

    CHAPTER 4 (The Interview):

  • Adversities=Hester may be suicidal or homicidal and Hester's concern that Chillingworth may poison her and Pearl
  • Overcoming Adversities=Chillingworth gives Pearl and Hester painkiller medication, Chillingworth and Hester apologizing to each other (p. 68), and Chillingworth tells Hester not to reveal his status as her husband

    CHAPTER 5 (Hester at Her Needle):

  • Adversities=Hester is a role model for what not to do, Hester as an outcast, and Hester is not allowed to sew a bride's veil or anything for a bride
  • Overcoming Adversities=Hester's jail sentence is over, Hester's commitment to staying in Boston, Hester's talent in needlework, Hester helping the poor by making garments for them, Hester's silence in the face of criticism, Hester's "sympathetic knowledge of the hidden sins in other hearts" (p. 78)

    CHAPTER 6 (Pearl):

  • Adversities=Pearl born an outcast and a "wild, desperate, defiant mood" (p. 82), children's cruelty toward Pearl, and Pearl's lack of belief in "Heavenly Father" (p. 88)
  • Overcoming Adversities=Pearl is "her mother's only treasure" (p. 80), Pearl created imaginary playmates (p. 85)

    CHAPTER 7 (The Governor's Hall):

  • Adversities=Gossip about Pearl being a demon child and a desire to remove Pearl from Hester, scarlet letter is prominent on Hester's chest
  • Overcoming Adversities=Pearl has no fear and stands up against the children's cruelty, Hester's teaching Pearl to "gather thine (your) own sunshine" (p. 92), and Hester's confidence and sophistication to gain entrance into the governor's mansion.

    CHAPTER 8 (The Elf-Child and the Minister):

  • Adversities=Pearl says she "had been plucked by her mother off the bush of wild roses" (p. 99), Pearl is believed to be a "badge of shame" (p. 98) and have an evil soul
  • Overcoming Adversities=Pearl needs strict discipline, proper dress and moral parents, Hester can teach Pearl and be better because of her mistake, Dimmesdale stands up for Hester's bond with Pearl, and Pearl saved Hester from further sin and being executed as a witch

    CHAPTER 9 (The Leech):

  • Adversities=Dimmesdale's failing health and gossip about Chillingworth being involved in witchcraft/satan
  • Overcoming Adversities=Chillingworth chose to provide medical support to Dimmesdale and Dimmesdale is considered a saint-like figure and scholar

    CHARACTERIZATION (personality traits, actions, thoughts, feelings, and other characters' points of view) OF THE FOLLOWING CHARACTERS:

  • Hester
  • Pearl
  • Chillingworth
  • Dimmesdale