The Scarlet Letter


Nathaniel Hawthorne

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The Scarlet Letter Characters

Hester Prynne

The protagonist of the novel, Hester is married to Roger Chillingworth and has an affair with Arthur Dimmesdale. The affair produces a daughter, Pearl. Hester plays many roles in The Scarlet Letter(read full character analysis)


The illegitimate daughter of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Pearl serves as a symbol of her mother's shame and triumph. At one point the narrator describes Pearl as "the scarlet letter endowed with life."… (read full character analysis)

Arthur Dimmesdale

A well respected Boston reverend who has an affair with Hester Prynne and is the secret father of Pearl. Shy, retiring, and well loved and respected by his public, Dimmesdale is too frightened and… (read full character analysis)

Roger Chillingworth

The old scholar who Hester Prynne met and married before coming to Boston. Chillingworth is a forbidding presence. Even his name reflects his haunting, ice-cold aura. Hester's relationship with Chillingworth, her actual husband, contrasts sharply… (read full character analysis)

The Narrator

The unnamed narrator is inspired to write The Scarlet Letter after discovering the scarlet letter and fragments of its story in an attic of the Custom House. He describes the novel as a tale of… (read full character analysis)
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Mistress Hibbins

Governor Bellingham's sister. She invites Hester to a witches' meeting in the woods and becomes the object of Pearl's fascination. She speaks often of the "Black Man," another name for the Devil. She… (read full character analysis)

Governor Bellingham

The governor of Boston and the brother of Mistress Hibbins. Bellingham conducts himself like an aristocrat, enjoying money, luxury, and the privileges of power. Yet when it comes to the actions of others, Governor… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
John Wilson
A jovial and grandfatherly English pastor who is loved for his kindness and benevolence. He serves as a mentor to Dimmesdale, though his somber and severe preaching style differs sharply from Dimmesdale's calm compassionate approach.
Jonathan Pue
The narrator's predecessor as Surveyor of the Salem Custom House. Pue wrote the original narrative about the scarlet letter, which the narrator discovered and turned into The Scarlet Letter.