The Scarlet Letter
Book, Music and Lyrics by Anne Dalton. Adapted from the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorn.
"The Scarlet Letter" opens as a New England town awaits the arrival on the pillory scaffold of Hester Prynne, the heroine. She is being punished for adultery and has steadfastly refused to disclose the name of her lover. As she stands on the pillory for public ridicule her elderly husband, whom she believed dead for several years, arrives at the town. Seeing her shame, he keeps his own identity secret and adopts the name of Chillingworth.
He visits Hester during her term of imprisonment and makes her swear not to reveal his identity. He vows to himself that he will seek out and devise his own fitting punishment for her lover. Hester and Pearl, her illegitimate child, live apart from the others and Hester supports them both with her exquisite needlework. The scarlet letter 'A' which she is forced to wear as a sign of her sin, is richly and beautifully embroidered in defiance and Pearl's clothing is exotically decorated with beautiful examples of the world of nature.
Hester's lover has still not confessed and whilst retaining her deep love for the man, she becomes fiercly independent and courageous. In time however, Hester's sympathetic nature and charitable works are such that the origin of the letter 'A' is almost forgotten. Slowly we realise that her lover is none other than the town's young and very dedicated minister, Reverend Dimmesdale. Chillingworth also arrives at the same conclusion and feigns friendship for him as he feeds his revenge with a slow, subtle torture of Dimmesdale' s conscience. He is so successful that the minister's mental and physical health deteriorates.
Watching Chillingworth's destruction of the man she loves, Hester decides to break her oath and warn Dimmesdale of her husband's true nature and purpose. They meet in the forest and their love revives. Hester persuades Dimmesdale that their only chance of freedom lies in running away from Puritan Massachusetts to the England of her childhood. They decide to leave after Dimmesdale's sermon for the inauguration of the colony's new governor, a most important day in the Puritan calendar.
Hester and Pearl wait for him outside the church but Dimmesdale's final battle with his conscience forces him into confession rather than escape. Almost in a state of collapse, he mounts the pillory scaffold supported by Hester and Pearl and confesses his guilt to the horrified and grief stricken community. He dies in Hester's arms and denies Chillingworth his ultimate revenge.
Indian Children, Ragged Children and Villagers
Scenes & Settings
- Scene 1: An area of the town square in Massachusetts
- Scene 2: Interiors of various Puritan homes surrounding the interior of Gaoler Bracketts quarters and Hester Prynne's gaol cell.
- Scene 3: Several years later. A clearing in the forest where a pathway reaches Hester Prynne's cottage.
- Scene 4: Outside Hester Prynne's cottage
- Scene 5: Governor Bellingham's mansion
- Scene 6: Several different locations: Mistress Rightway's room; Reverend Dimmesdale's study; Chillingworth's quarters; Hester by the sea; The forest pathway to the town; The town square
- Scene 1: The town square, and later, the interior of Mistress Fairley's room
- Scene 2: The forest
- Scene 3: The town square
- Scene 4: The town square, three days later
- Epilogue - The graveyard