A tale of sin, punishment and atonement, The Scarlet Letter exposes the moral rigidity of a 17th-Century 'puritan New England community when faced with the illegitimate child of a young mother. Regarded as the first real heroine of American fiction, it is Hester Prynne's strength of character that resonates with the reader when her harsh sentence is cast. It is in her refusal to reveal he identity of the father in the face of her accusers hat Hawthorne champions his heroine and berates he weakness of society for attacking the innocent.

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