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Which is worse: public shame or hidden suffering? Ask any junior in Mrs. Gruntorad’s English 3 classes, and they will tell you the answer according to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter. Students are reading the classic novel during 2nd quarter and have enjoyed following the tragic characters and enigmatic plot. Hawthorne’s story takes place in Boston during the mid-seventeenth century. The two main characters, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, are punished for their sins according to their strict Puritan religion. What was their sin? What is the scarlet letter? Again, ask any junior student and they can tell you this great tale.