The Scarlet Letter Questions and Answers
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter book cover
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In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, how do the major characters develop and change throughout the novel?

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While the major characters serve well to develop the theme of sin and guilt, Hawthorne's lack of dialogue and failure to create ones that reflect the individuality of his characters blurs their development. Instead, they serve more as voices for Hawthorne himself as narrator,becoming more allegorical and symbolic than real.

Hester Prynne 

Not a Puritan, Hester falls under the stringent Puritan laws and is publicly humiliated and labeled as an adulterer, forced to wear a scarlet A upon her bosom. Accepting her guilt, she begs the governor and Reverend Wilson to allow her to keep Pearl as a reminder of this offense and as a preventative against further sin. That Pearl acts as a redemptive source more than the scarlet letter is evidenced when Hester departs and she encounters Mistress Hibbins who invites her to accompany her into the forest to meet with the Black Man. Hester replies,

"I must tarry at home, and keep watch over my little Pearl. Had they taken her from me, I would...

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