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Characters

Learn about the characters in Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter with Course Hero's video study guide.

The Scarlet Letter | Characters

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Character Description
Hester Prynne Hester is a beautiful young woman who believes she has lost her husband and has an affair with a minister. Judged an adulteress by the Puritan community, she must wear a scarlet letter as a symbol of her crime. Hardworking and kind, she nonetheless does not repent of her love but earns the respect and admiration of the community for her good deeds and dignity. She is a fictional character. Read More
Arthur Dimmesdale A young Puritan minister, he lacks the courage to admit that he was Hester's lover. His guilt causes him great physical and mental pain and eventually leads to his death once he publicly admits his sin. He is a fictional character. Read More
Roger Chillingworth Hester's husband, Chillingworth is a skilled physician whose kindness melts away in his determination to learn the identity of his wife's lover and take revenge on him. Suspecting Dimmesdale, he tortures the minister and so commits the worst crime by violating "the sanctity of the human heart." He is a fictional character. Read More
Pearl The daughter of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, Pearl is mischievous and wild. She is a fictional character. Read More
Governor Bellingham Richard Bellingham (1592–1672), a lawyer born in England, came to Boston in 1634. He was governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1641, 1654, and from 1665 to 1672. He is based on a real historical figure.
Mistress Hibbins Ann Hibbins, Governor Bellingham's sister by marriage, was executed for witchcraft (by hanging) in 1656. She is based on a real historical figure.
John Wilson John Wilson (1588–1667), an English Congregational minister, was among the first settlers in New England, arriving in 1630. He is based on a real historical figure.
John Winthrop Governor Winthrop (1588–1649) helped establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. He was reelected governor virtually every year until his death. His journal of the colony is a valuable historical record. He is based on a real historical figure.
Townspeople The unnamed townspeople represent Puritan society.
Unnamed Puritan woman The unnamed Puritan woman comments on Dimmesdale's reaction to the scandal.
Kind Puritan woman The kind Puritan woman speaks kindly about Hester's distress.
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