Rewriting "The Scarlet Letter"

By EW Staff
Updated October 20, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic The Scarlet Letter is a bleak morality tale about the perils of adultery. How times, and plotlines, have changed. Today, indiscretions are more easily excused and downbeat endings — like Hawthorne’s original, where Hester and Dimmesdale are united only by death — often revised to send moviegoers home cheery. Following the Scarlet moviemakers’ lead, we invited a few writers to dream up a some new scenarios for Hester. The results:

Michael Musto, Village Voice columnist ”The hateful townspeople force Hester to go on a Salem version of Wheel of Fortune, where she tries to buy a vowel, only to be informed that she already has an A. They start to pillory her, but then the local fashion trendies decide that her letter is ‘really fierce,’ launching a statewide mania for tattooing and piercing. Hester becomes the world’s first supermodel and, with Chillingworth and Dimmesdale, opens a darkly-lit chain of Adultery Cafes. The money enables her to finish school — the one Sally Struthers advertises — and she gets an A+.”

Billy Frolick, a.k.a. Ronald Richard Roberts, author of The Ditches of Edison County ”Hester time-travels to 1995 Idaho, where she falls in love with another scorned refugee, Mark Fuhrman, who wears the letter R on his chest. After a year in an abusive relationship, Hester empowers herself, cuts out Fuhrman’s tongue, moves to L.A., signs with CAA, and is honored in award ceremonies by both NOW and the NAACP.”

Tama Janowitz, author of The Male Cross-Dresser Support Group ”On her way to meet Dimmesdale in the forest, Hester accidentally stumbles over a handsome Native American, to whom the letter A means nothing. He takes her astride his mount and later, when Dimmesdale and Chillingworth arrive to rescue her, they find her happily picking cranberries, which she uses to make chutney and dye her lovely weavings, destined to become collectibles. Dimmesdale and Chillingworth ride off together into the sunset, while Hester and her husband collaborate on a line of handmade clothing — the A-line skirt.”