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Part of Hawthorne’s style is the ambiguity of the narrator. Hawthorne claims that he is merely "explaining how a large portion of the following pages came into [his] possession." I guess this ambiguity follows his characters as well. We quickly realise that there is more to Hester than the village strumpet and it takes much more examination to find out. Hawthorne was also big on symbolic content. Consider the Scarlet letter itself; we could go on for a long time with that. The small colonial town Boston, Massachusetts is the setting for this. It is described, more or less, as a bastion of morality outside the wilderness of unsettled America. Hester walks this unsettled wilderness for much of the novel.
The Scarlet Letter