Notes to The Scarlet Letter

Notes for each chapter are contained in separate files accessible from each chapter text. We suggest you resize this window and leave it in a convenient place on your screen, for example at the bottom of and partly behind the text window. As you select links which refer to the notes, the notes information will appear at the top line of this window. As you select a link from this window, the appropriate text paragraph will display at the top of the text window. When you are finished referring to these notes, you may close this window.

The notes here include short explanations of information that would have been understood by a reader at the time the book was published. These notes have also been expanded to include a sort of commentary by an amateur reader. Our intent is to raise questions in your mind or make you think more about the text. (In some cases your teacher may disagree with our interpretations--in which case you naturally should follow your teacher.) If you are writing a paper and wish to cite references, you may find that many of the ideas here were first published by other critics, but we have not cited them for you. We are not trying to provide an authoritative single source for reference, and we cannot do so because most good sources are under copyright. Please refer to your teacher's suggested reference material, or ask your librarian for help in finding a bibliography.

A short summary of the plot can be found in Anthony Trollope's 1879 review of Hawthorne, though you might enjoy reading the book for yourself before he spoils your pleasure by telling you the ending.

Also, an Introduction to The Scarlet Letter, by Katherine Lee Bates, Professor of English, Wellesley College, 1902, might still be useful for modern readers, as it summarizes the author's sources and context.


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Last updated: Sat Sep 11 16:47:02 EDT 1999
©Copyright 1999 Eric Eldred - see license
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