Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis
The Scarlet Letter opens with a description of the prison in which Hester has been incarcerated for adultery. This prison is an ugly, necessary building, constructed very early in the history of Boston colony. Boston lore holds that Anne Hutchinson, the infamous spiritual advisor and "heretic," once walked into this same prison, and that a rose-bush sprung up under her sainted feet. The omniscient narrator hopes that these roses will symbolize a kind of moral sweetness that will otherwise be hard to find in this novel.