Introduction: The first forty-four pages written by the author tell about his life working at the Custom House in Salem Massachusetts. During his time of employment there, he discovers some records in the attic and begins to piece together the story of Hester Prynne, an adulterous man in Puritan Salem. The Scarlet Letter is his account of the story with as many facts as he, the author, was able to gather from the documents he found.
Chapter 1: Hawthorn's first chapter is short, detailing the set up of colonial Salem. He talks of the town and how essential prisons and cemeteries are in the organization. Next to the steps of the Salem prison is a rosebush that has survived centuries and Hawthorn says this bush gives comfort with it's beauty to the people who enter and leave the establishment.