Hawthorne’s Boston


It’s like turning the pages of “The Scarlet Letter” and following Hester Prynne’s journey to her redemption.

The vestiges of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s setting of the colony and what is left of the real Massachusetts Bay Colony welcome us in downtown Boston. As enthralling as “The Scarlet Letter” is, so is Boston and its old world charm.

The walk to the King’s Chapel from the old city hall is fraught with excitement. I have been keeping mental notes of the places and characters mentioned in the book. There it is, at the corner of Beacon and Tremont streets, the chapel where the character Reverend Dimmesdale delivered his election speech.

The marker reads that the church was founded in 1686 and the first building erected at the site was the first church of England in the city.

As I enter the chapel, my eyes dart from side to side, and slowly focusing on the pulpit. It’s like I am in trance. I recall Hawthorne’s novel and the ubiquitous Puritan values and ways. The pulpit takes me back to the setting of the novel, where Reverend Dimmesdale struggles to confess to the public his sin, his discomfort in dealing with his inner demons, his longing to be released from the torture of keeping his illicit affair with Hester Prynne. I even imagine the dreadful Mr. Chillingworth lurking in the shado