After her ordeal, where did Hester choose to live in The Scarlet Letter?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hester Prynne's choice of residency after her ordeal in the novel The Scarlet Letter is quite complex, intellectually speaking. There are several considerations that crossed Hester's mind, and heart, when making her final decision.

Instead of fleeing from the public scorn of the villagers, Hester Prynne decided to remain in New England. The reason for not fleeing was, at first, that New England was

the scene of her guilt, and here should be the scene of her earthly punishment.

There is also another reason which even Hester herself admits: she has the "half a truth, and half a self-delusion" that maybe she might end up with Dimmesdale living together, after all. She knew that the odds for that were low, but she still had a small sense of hope within.

it might be that another feeling kept her within the scene and pathway that had been so fatal...there trode the feet of one with whom she deemed herself connected in a union...and make that their marriage-altar, for a joint futurity of endless retribution.

The place that she selected was located in the outskirts of the village, isolated from many. It was a "thatched cottage", described as having been

built by an earlier settler, and abandoned, because the soil about it was too sterile for cultivation...

This is allegorical to Hester's own situation, where she has become similarly abandoned. She is enduring on her own the shame and the ignominy, and for this reason her heart is slowly becoming sterile.

 It stood on the shore, looking across a basin of the sea at the forest-covered hills, towards the west.

The cottage was isolated, but not so isolated that it would hide Hester from the rest of the world. As expected, the remoteness made Hester seem unapproachable and folklore began to roam about her, with children going by to cause much pain to Hester and then to Pearl, making them pariahs of society.

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The Scarlet Letter

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