Describe the place where Hester chose to live with her daughter in The Scarlet Letter.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The answer to this question can be found in Chapter Five of this novel, where Hester's life after she leaves prison with her daughter is introduced to us. Hester's new life is very symbolic in terms of where she choses to situate herself, as the following description makes clear:

On the outskirts of town, within the verge of the peninsula, but not in close vicinity to any other habitation, there was a small thatched cottage. It had been built by an earlier settler, and abandoned because the soil about it was too sterile for cultivation, while its comparative remoteness put it out of the sphere of that social activity which already marked the habits of the emigrants.

It is this "small thatched cottage" that Hester chooses for her dwelling. The fact that it lies on the fringes of the town and civilised life is particularly fitting, as Hester, through her act of adultery and the scarlet "A" she is forced to wear on her breast, is forced to operate on the fringes of respectable society. Her living place therefore seems apt based on her position amongst the Puritans who have shunned her. That the location has "sterile" soil is again important as it reflects Hester's position in society. She is only free to live somewhere without any perceived value as befits her status as sinner and outcast.


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