The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not to tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude These had been her teachersstern and wild onesand they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss. Nathaniel Hawthorne As she emerges from the prison of a Puritan New England town, Hester Prynne defies the dark gloom much as the rose blooms against the prison door. With her illegitimate baby, Pearl, clutched in her arms and the letter Athe mark of an adulteressembroidered in scarlet thread on her breast, Hester holds her head high as she faces the malice and scorn of the townsfolk. Her powerful, bittersweet story is an American classic that continues to touch the hearts of modern readers with its timeless themes of guilt, passion and repentance.