The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide. Read The Scarlet Letter by author Nathaniel Hawthorne, FREE, online. (Table of Contents.) This book and many more are available. The Scarlet Letter, novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in It is considered a masterpiece of American literature and a classic moral study. Nathaniel.
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The Scarlet Letter: A Romance is a work of historical fiction by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in The Scarlet Letter was one of the first mass-produced books in America. It was popular when first published and is. The Scarlet Letter book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Delve into The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne's meditat. Hawthorne's Short Stories. The House of the Seven Gables. The Scarlet Letter. Four Classic American Novels. See all books by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
This distinction, in his mind, was important. Where a novel, as he put it, "aims at a very minute fidelity, not merely to the possible, but to the probable and ordinary course of man's experience", a romance expressed "the truth of the human heart". Here, in short, is the prototype of the psychological novel, a brilliant and groundbreaking example of a new genre within 19th-century fiction. Hawthorne's tale has a stark simplicity. In the 17th-century town of Boston, a young woman, Hester Prynne, is publicly disgraced for committing adultery and giving birth to an illegitimate child, a girl named Pearl.
Modern society and a number of people seem somewhat confused about our ancestors. On the other hand, they sometimes imbue them with super mystical intelligence, class and abilities whilst bemoaning how stupid and uncouth we have become in comparison.
The Scarlet Letter allows us to judge that the reality was somewhere in between but mostly sitting on the side of pathological stupidity. The Scarlet Letter is one of those books they force children in American schools to read at gunpoint in an effort to "educate" them and to force otherwise useful knowledge out of those young brains.
Precious, precious knowledge! In fact, reading this book reminded me of why I'm so passionately vocal about education reform! Changing Education Paradigms This book is pretty much everything wrong with our education system today. It is out of date, it's read pretty much consistently across the board whether it's applicable or not, and its lessons aren't entirely fundamental to today's society and what little value is to be learnt in this book, is better learned by other means.
The fact is that people are getting smarter. All the time. It may not look that way when Jersey Shore starts up on your television set, but it's true. And we're really too smart for a book whose object lessons are so comically out of date in today's society. This book deals mostly with issues that are no longer issues, and any moral lessons that might apply to life today are so badly translated that one must argue why this book is still circulating in the education system.
This is why most high school graduates don't like reading, and mostly, don't like reading the classics. They think it'll just be more of the same as The Scarlet Letter. So, please, if you are in school and your psycho bitch of an English teacher remember: Remind them that reading old books a bunch translates to being educated about as much as placing said books on your head and hoping you absorb the knowledge through a form of psychic-osmosis.
If they argue, please feel free to tell them that I give you full permission to go read something that isn't a complete waste of your time. View all 38 comments.
Aug 07, James rated it really liked it Shelves: Book Review 4 of 5 stars to The Scarlet Letter , a classic romantic period tale written in , by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Students are often required to read excerpts from this book, if not the whole book, during school. I was one of those students, but then I read it again in college as part of my American Romanticism course during freshmen year.
But I also read it a third time prior to a movie being released, as I liked the actors in the movie, but wanted to be able to compare the literary wo Book Review 4 of 5 stars to The Scarlet Letter , a classic romantic period tale written in , by Nathaniel Hawthorne. But I also read it a third time prior to a movie being released, as I liked the actors in the movie, but wanted to be able to compare the literary work against it It's a tough work to get into, given the language and style.
But once you do, it flourishes. Apart from being one of the most influential works of Puritan belief systems, it also broke ground by truly focusing on a woman who has done something sacrilegious above and beyond any normal broken sins. To lay with a man when you are not married I love the story.
It was necessary at that time to push the envelope. People needed to break away from Puritan traditions of the former century. Minds were starting to open up about what it meant to be in love, to have a child and to be on your own.
I may not agree with some of the lessons in the story, nor with the beliefs of all the Puritanical books, but there's something to be said when this story can transcend time -- and become a much copied work of literature. So many modern stories and books reference The Scarlet Letter Some may think I'm pushing it by connecting those dots, but it all got its start from this book, in my opinion.
Love it. But can't give it a 5 as the language is difficult, tho I understand it was fine for the times. About Me For those new to me or my reviews I read A LOT.
I write A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https: Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Jan 08, Matthew rated it did not like it Shelves: Current rating based on high school mandatory reading experience.
Comments on this review are making me think I might try it again to see what my adult self thinks. View all 50 comments.
On one hand it treats Hester almost like a proto-feminist figure, undaunted and dignified in the face of public disgrace, one who earns her own living to raise her child and on the other, she is readily accepting of her own persecution.
Similarly, Dimmesdale is torn between his emotional urges and his allegiance to a doctrine which denies him his h 3. Similarly, Dimmesdale is torn between his emotional urges and his allegiance to a doctrine which denies him his humanity.
Oppressed by the faith he clings on to for meaning and validation, he chooses private anguish over a public fall from grace quite consciously. In a way, he willingly remains a cog in the wheel of the Puritan machinery while subconsciously resenting the fact of his bondage. The author's treatment of Chillingworth is perhaps the most paradoxical. He is cast in the role of the Biblical snake, a decrepit looking man of intellect, but shown to be a strangely sympathetic cuckold at the same time who refrains from slut-shaming Hester and goes as far as admitting to his own failings as a husband, an astonishing and laudable character trait.
I am not sure what was the point of linking natural intelligence with evil though. But let us decontextualize first. Because what good would it do to pan the tyranny of the Puritanical worldview in this day and age?
And haven't re-envisioned Biblical scenarios already lost their sheen? Let us take the scarlet letter instead - the incriminating 'A', a mark of woman's ultimate disgrace that Hester bears like a badge of honour in the last stretch, perhaps, having appropriated its connotative worth as a social censure and transmuted it into a part of her identity.
Undoubtedly it is the most interesting thing about the novel, because the very weapon of social ostracism wielded against Hester contributes towards her maturation as a character and unwittingly bestows on her the capacity for unfettered thought and freedom of movement. By cementing her status as an outsider, it accords her the unique opportunity of spotting the limitations of a community imprisoned by its own conservatism and aids the process of her liberation and education.
It might be a stretch to call the letter a symbol for female emancipation but the text is my guide and the author is dead in the Barthesian sense so I'll draw my own conclusions. Sample one of her observations as evidence - "Indeed, the same dark question often rose into her mind with reference to the whole race of womanhood.
Was existence worth accepting even to the happiest among them? As if Dimmesdale suffers as much as the woman banished to the very margins of society wherein she is forced to raise a child on her own and endure the objectifying gaze of men and women silently pillorying her existence. It seems only Pearl, often referred to as a 'demon offspring' , a living embodiment of the repudiation of all doctrinal dogma, is quick to identify her father's moral hypocrisy - "What a strange, sad man is he!
And in the deep forest, where only the old trees can hear, and the strip of sky see it, he talks with thee, sitting on a heap of moss! And he kisses my forehead, too, so that the little brook would hardly wash it off! But, here, in the sunny day, and among all the people, he knows us not; nor must we know him!
A strange, sad man is he, with his hand always over his heart! His guilt-ridden conscience is the center of his universe, not the welfare of the woman he abandons to a fate of enduring countless indignities.
And his decision to go out in a blaze of pseudo-heroic glory by finally confessing to his 'sin' publicly is further evidence of his self-serving nature. If anything it proves to be his second act of traitorous desertion of Hester, in which he cruelly stamps out her last hope of beginning a new life elsewhere with the father of her child.
Thus, I'd remember him as a representative figure of the Puritan moral machinery which flounders in its attempts to maintain its infallibility in the face of sobering reality.
Further, the elevation of Hester to a Christ-like symbol of suffering and self-sacrifice who graduates beyond the confines of the world of flesh to attain a near-mythical status is deeply problematic.
It vitiates the fact of her growth as a woman of independent means whose very presence, albeit in the fringes of society, serves as an existential threat to the patriarchal Puritan set-up. The omniscient narrator's interjections serve as additional irritants especially because he feels like he has to expatiate on the symbolism of the letter, Chillingworth and Pearl time and again for the sake of the reader's benefit.
We get it, Mr Hawthorne. You like insulting the reader's intelligence. Lastly, since the narrative mostly develops around the tension between conflicting ideologies it becomes a bit too involved with its own didacticism, often reducing its characters to mere stiff mouthpieces or symbols. It fails to create any dramatic suspense. As a result there's very little pleasure to be derived from reading. Tl;dr, this is probably not a feminist novel.
But of all the things that stand out for me, the author's indirect indictment of slut-shaming remains the foremost. For obvious reasons.
Also, Chillingworth over Dimmesdale any day. View all 37 comments. Nathaniel Hawthorne is the coolest name ever. I can see why people dislike this book, though.
Hawthorne doesn't hesitate to use a lot of words. He prefers to perforate his readers' craniums with an extensive utilization of verbose language, thus intimidating and irritating those whose literary palettes do not include grandiose diction. Reading The Scarlet Letter relieved me. I'd take rambling paragraphs and stocky sentences over quadratic equations and piecewise functions any day. Besides, his wri Nathaniel Hawthorne is the coolest name ever. Besides, his writing is beautiful.
A little grandiloquent, yes, but still absolutely brilliant. Not to mention that it must've required courage to publish a book like this. It's openly feminist and psychological, two things that I'm sure were not comfortable dinner topics in the 's.
Hawthorne skilfully delves into the themes of legalism and guilt, and the story is one to think about. Apparently he wrote the book and changed his last name from Hathorne to Hawthorne because his uncle was an executioner at the Salem witch trials - kind of sounds like something I would do The writing took a while to get used to. The story itself was good, just wish it was a bit more modern.
Far too much description. View all 5 comments. Let me start my review by stating that I'm guilty and should wear a big "P" for "preoccupied" on my chest.
I mentioned in a previous review that I was worried that if I wasn't in the right state of mind and in an adequate setting, I wouldn't be able to enjoy Dickens's Great Expectations - turned out it wasn't the case. I never expected that for The Scarlet Letter , but this might be one of the reasons I didn't enjoy the book that much and rated it 3 stars: I was in the middle of preparations to Let me start my review by stating that I'm guilty and should wear a big "P" for "preoccupied" on my chest.
I was in the middle of preparations to move in to a new place and had tons of decisions to make and wanted to solve everything as soon as possible. So, maybe this is the type of book that you need to get into a proper mood and mind state to really enjoy - as it has such a different and unique atmosphere.
To be completely fair though, I started The Odyssey around the same time and had no trouble concentrating and isolating life's questions while I was reading all about Ulysses. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy - or couldn't recognize - particular positive aspects of this book: The scenes where Hester and Arthur meet in the woods and are finally alone are beautifully written and we finally get to see a glimpse of the love that put them in severe penitence.
Speaking of that, I simply can't wrap my head around the fact that Hester - a married woman, whose husband is long gone, is sentenced to wear the letter "A" stands for "adultery" sewn to her clothes, on her bosom, to be publicly and constantly humiliated - didn't simply decide to leave New England for good with her daughter.
It doesn't make sense to me that she would agree to such a thing and raise her daughter in that unsound - to say the least! The highlight for me is centered around Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale's inner conflict: Not to mention the religion vs. In the book's conclusion, we learn that Hester, after being away for some time - which, again, is what she should've done since the opening scene - is back and wearing the scarlet letter on her bosom again: Here had been her sin; here, her sorrow; and here was yet to be her penitence.
She had returned, therefore, and resumed--of her own free will, for not the sternest magistrate of that iron period would have imposed it--resumed the symbol of which we have related so dark a tale. Never afterwards did it quit her bosom. Mar 05, Lyn rated it really liked it.
I read The Scarlet Letter in high school and enjoyed it. I have also seen the film a few years ago with Demi Moore, meh. What still draws me to this book, and to the subject as a whole, was Hester's overwhelming self confidence. Her stance, and how can it be anything else, is one of courage and tenacity. I understand also that her penance could be so sincere as to name her child Scarlet and dress her always in red, but the quality of the dresses and the simple pride with which she stands is stil I read The Scarlet Letter in high school and enjoyed it.
I understand also that her penance could be so sincere as to name her child Scarlet and dress her always in red, but the quality of the dresses and the simple pride with which she stands is still inspirational. Y es en base a esto que gira toda la historia. Yo soy un gran admirador de Hawthorne y es uno de mis autores preferidos. View all 7 comments. Embarking on this book for the third time I resolved to be of good heart and to above all be strict and particular in my perusal of the framing introduction, and indeed there I noticed some thing most strange, speaking of his puritan and persecuting ancestors Hawthorne writes "At all events, I, the present writer, as their representative, hereby take shame upon myself for their sakes Why would a strict and persecuting puritan of seventeenth century Embarking on this book for the third time I resolved to be of good heart and to above all be strict and particular in my perusal of the framing introduction, and indeed there I noticed some thing most strange, speaking of his puritan and persecuting ancestors Hawthorne writes "At all events, I, the present writer, as their representative, hereby take shame upon myself for their sakes Why would a strict and persecuting puritan of seventeenth century New England feel shame for being a strict and persecuting puritan of seventeenth century New England?
Hawthorne's 19th century shame is a rejection of being a fish in water, or even a deliberate misunderstanding of what it was to be a fish in water, which is not his theme. He is, I think, not interested in what it was like to be a Puritan, but he is very interested in the Puritans as a setting for an indigeneous American Gothic tradition - here be witches, and ruffs, and old style-Quaker speech, oh the potential for melodrama! The descendant of those ancient grave Puritans tells them this story in which we are shown that Hester Prynne is not so much the community's greatest sinner as it's principal Scapegoat, bearing the sins and projected sinfulness of the whole of Boston.
In that sense she is a saviour - she suffers for them, while redeeming her self through good works. Part of the story is about teaching the reader that Puritanism is bad and gaiety is good, it is passing interesting to see Hawthorne rejecting the city on a hill idealisation of early religious communities in America before it was even properly established.
It strikes me that Hawthorne loves effects of light in his story-telling as much as Spielberg does in his films, this is a very visual story, told in technicolor, Hester clad in grey with this scarlet A upon her chest, young Dimmesdale we barely see with out his hand upon his own heart, little Pearl grasping for the occasional stray sunbeam which symbolically attempts to penetrate, Zeus like, this grave and sombre community awkwardly positioned between the wilds of the Ocean and the depths of the wilderness stretching from sea to shining sea.
Hedged in and gloomy, the story is a triumph of atmosphere. This anti-love triangle story ought to be an interior story, to my eyes the USA is an extrovert place and Hawthorne seems to see it in a similar way, the Scarlet letter, twice for Hawthorne likes to work his symbols view spoiler [ as well as his commas hide spoiler ] expresses physically and literally what I might venture to presume to be purely interior to the characters.
In this Puritan New England there can be no inner life, if you attempt to have one, the magistrates will seemingly oblige you to wear your heart on your sleeve view spoiler [ or bodice if that be more commodious hide spoiler ]. Hawthorne, I felt, channels Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart view spoiler [ indeed poor Dimmesdale's heart does betray him to the sinister Chillingworth, view spoiler [ whose chill hand somehow does not disturb the troubled clergyman from his guilty slumbers hide spoiler ] hide spoiler ].
At the same time this is a story at a crossroads, it comes from the Gothic, it could turn down into melodrama high-street, or into psychological story alley. About Hester "she felt or fancied, then, that the scarlet letter had endowed her with a new sense Sometimes, the red infamy upon her breast would give a sympathetic throb, as she passed near a venerable minister or magistrate Again, a mystic sisterhood would contumaciously assert itself, as she met the sanctified frown of some matron, who, according to the rumor of all tongues, had kept cold snow within her bosom throughout life But Hawthorne so hems his story about, not just with commas, but with reservations too.
Is Hester's insight a product of her interior life, projecting the knowledge of her own sinfulness on to others, or it is Gothic and melodramatic and magical and literal? Later the universally recognised community Witch asserts that she shares secret knowledge with Hester ppp which maybe implies that Hester has gained some kind of super-power, sin-sight we might call it.
It is the victory of an extrovert culture view spoiler [ perhaps, maybe, possibly, with many commas hide spoiler ].
I've read this book a couple of times but I can't say that I feel that it has made a strong impression on me, until this my third reading. Possibly the fairly stiff language that Hawthorne uses for his 17th century characters is something that I can't easily get past. Above all I recall this book as having a brooding atmosphere and scenes like the meeting on the forest path as having an oddly sinister air.
Plainly it was remarkable but I lack the context in New England transcendalism to fully appreciate why. On the one hand it is a fairly critical view of one group of founding fathers and by extension of American religiosity and small town life, equally I think it suffers as a result, it could be the story of Hester Prynne, but it is not, or could be the story of her opposite Dimmesdale but again it is not, or it could even be the story of her other opposite Chillingsworth but is also not.
Nor is the story of their unloving triangle of torture and suffering. It is the gruesome story of a vicious letter of the alphabet, a grim foreshadowing of a mirror image version of Sesame Street brought to you by the letter A and the number 3. Another case of youthful idiocy corrected.
I was one of those dumb kids who thought it was over-written and dull. And yeah, it is over-written, but sort of in the same way that zombie scenes in The Walking Dead are over-written. And but by no means is this book dull, either. I was engaged from start to finish. For those who have never heard of Boom! The situation that follows comes to redefine the idea of sin and moral decrepitude. In fact, those prudes are so careful not to appear improper that Hawthorne likens them—during a day on which they should be having the most fun ever, mind you—to infirmary patients.
Into this festal season of the year—as it already was, and continued to be during the greater part of two centuries—the Puritans compressed whatever mirth and public joy they deemed allowable to human infirmity; thereby so far dispelling the customary cloud, that, for the space of a single holiday, they appeared scarcely more grave than most other communities at a period of general affliction.
The Scarlet Letter is superbly well written and I am glad for having given it the second chance it so deserved. Hester Prynne, modern day, Boston, Massachusetts View all 23 comments.
One reason for that is the vagueness of Hawthorne's theme. Are we to believe in witches, for he includes one in the story, who doesn't hide her allegiance to the devil. Are Hester and her lover and especially little Pearl supposed to be the living embodiment of evil? It seems that Pearl is, because he describes her thus, time and time again.
If that is the case, I am glad that thoughts have changed on that issue, at least. I suppose the Puritans didn't believe in forgiveness or redemption or weakness. Their will was to enforce divine law and they did their duty.
What a dour book, so bleak! At least, it ends on a bit of an uplift. View all 14 comments. Oct 13, Christine rated it it was amazing Shelves: The best advice anyone can get about The Scarlet Letter is to skip the whole introductory bit about the Chapter House, unless you want a degree in English.
I love this book; I teach this book, but I have my students skip that introduction. It'll make them hate the book. Once you have skipped that part, what greets you is a wonderful book about the nature and defination of sin. Is it the outward sin, such as Hester's, that is the worse? Or is it the sin that never really comes to light? The book e The best advice anyone can get about The Scarlet Letter is to skip the whole introductory bit about the Chapter House, unless you want a degree in English.
The book explores these questions and challenges the reader to explore them as well. For instance, I have seen wonderful debates about how much of a "tramp" Hester really is. Well, my students didn't use the word tramp, but I don't think the term they used is acceptable for a review. Hawthorne makes great use of symbolism and as a result, there is always something new when reading this book. Another required read that took me by surprise at how much I enjoyed it.
This is a book that delves into the consequences of guilt on a person's psyche. It is very layered in that there are times where you are not sure that what happens is exactly what is perceived. No exactly surreal but written so that there is a little bit of question about supernatural things happening. Such as did Dimmesdale really have that scarlet A branded on his chest from the power of the overwhelming guilt he carried?
Is Pearl really a normal little girl or is she a devil child? Is Roger Chillingsworth just a cuckolded husband or is he the true evil in this village? I loved all the unanswered questions and the power of this story. I admired Hester that she didn't break down and was strong in the face of the censure she received because she was a woman and she got pregnant from an adulterous liaison, and therefore couldn't hide her actions. I don't even think the town cared about who the father was.
They had their sinner and they tried to make Hester pay for both of their sins. Unresolved guilt does have the power to undermine a person. It can be a burden too heavy to bear. This book resonated with me because I believe this message to be true. I also think it criticizes the tendency of groups to be judgmental against an individual who might have deviated from societal norms, or more likely, just got caught doing it.
Hands down, this is one of my favorites of the books I had to read in school. My Video Review: As such, I didn't have high hopes seeing as I don't read many classics and enjoy even fewer. Luckily, I picked up a physical copy and borrowed the audiobook from the library at the same time. That was such a good decision. I listened to the narration as I read along which helped me power through the novel in two days I had to read this My Video Review: I listened to the narration as I read along which helped me power through the novel in two days I had to read this for class, and I hadn't realized it until two days before.
I honestly think this method helped me enjoy it so much more because I didn't get bogged down in the old writing style that looked like it would be very dense to tackle on my own.
My Law and Literature class then spent a whole class discussing the different aspects of the book focusing on the societal rules and their version of laws. It actually captured the way each individual place and group had their own versions of punishment that hardly ever matched anyone else's early on. We chatted about the values of society and how they shaped the town's view of crime, punishment, and rehabilitation. We also touched on some of the more literary themes as well, so I think all of this combined really added to my enjoyment of this novel!
Without reading this way, I don't think I would have appreciated it nearly as much. I enjoyed reading it immensely Absolutely hated it and almost gave up on the entire book because of it, but I'm so glad I didn't because I loved the book aside from that.
Sharon Forbes I really enjoyed your video review of this, very well done, I thought! I downloaded the book onto my Kindle app, as it was free! Hope to read it somet I really enjoyed your video review of this, very well done, I thought! Hope to read it sometime in the future. Jul 29, Alex rated it it was amazing Shelves: Nathaniel Hawthorne is an easy writer to dislike.
He's stuffy and moralistic and he says "thou" a lot and he just makes you want to roll your eyes.
And it doesn't help that if you read him it was probably in ninth grade, the apogee of human eyerolling. He loves to rail about how shitty the Puritans were, stemming maybe from his own guilt over having a Salem witch-burning ancestor - Hawthorne's personal brand of secret shame. But the Puritans were such tightassed joykills that there's room to do a Nathaniel Hawthorne is an easy writer to dislike.
But the Puritans were such tightassed joykills that there's room to do a lot of clucking over them and still be a prig yourself, which Hawthorne is. He loves referring to Natives as savages, and he's prone to comments like: Women derive a pleasure, incomprehensible to the other sex, from the delicate toil of the needle.
Which was maybe not a super rare sentiment for the time - , contemporary with the Brontes - but plenty of writers were well past bullshit like that. And he does himself no favors by starting The Scarlet Letter right off with a framing story that amounts to 50 deadly pages of bitching about his shitty job at a customs house. Skip that shit, it is terrible. I read a few essays about Hawthorne yesterday, and also polled all my bookish friends, and the best anyone could muster was a tepid sort of "I respect him for what he does.
In the enormous mass of American fiction there is nothing particularly to our credit. But there is much cause for satisfaction in the wide prevalence of fairly correct technique. So given all these marvelous reasons to dislike Hawthorne, why is Scarlet Letter a five star book?
Because of the sheer force of its central image. Hawthorne was obsessed with symbolism, as any glance into his stupid dark woods will tell you. His central symbol, the scarlet letter itself, isn't as powerful as Melville's Whale, and this isn't as good a book.
But it does have its own power. Like the Whale, it means whatever it means for you: Hawthorne was talking specifically about religious hypocrisy, but any hypocrisy - any secret or public shame - fits perfectly well, and I'm pretty sure we can all come up with something to fit there. And the story itself is just about perfect. Assuming, again, that you skip the shitty framing story. Hawthorne's pace and language never falter.
It moves briskly and it gets out when it's done. And he's a wonderfully visual writer: Although if it's supposed to be a mystery who knocked Hester up, it's not a very good one; there's only one suspect. Like Moby-Dick, Scarlet Letter is basically inscrutable. What I found in all those essays I read was major debate over how much Hawthorne believes his own bullshit.
Was he at heart a Puritan? He moralizes like one, frequently. Some critic named Arthur Symons, for example, says, "All Hawthorne's work is one form or another of 'handling sin. The absence of conviction makes the difference; but the difference is great. My own sense is that Hawthorne struggled with it himself: Scarlet Letter isn't sure how seriously it takes itself. What Henry James, and also possibly your ninth grade English teacher, is trying to convince you is that Hawthorne is more fun than he seems.
This is not true; he isn't more fun than anything seems. He is not fun. He's great, though! This is a great book, and the reason that great scarlet A is a universally-understood reference is that it's a great thing to have come up with. None of Hawthorne's other writing is up to this level - and neither is most other writing at all - and skip the intro, but this book is for real. Feb 02, Chrissie rated it really liked it Shelves: Time for a reread!
I read this in high school. I remember liking The Scarlet Letter when I read it in high school. I had a good teacher and the conversation was lively. We all had a lot to say about love and sex and adultery because we all knew very little, but that rarely stops one from having opinions and hopes and ideals.
We were fourteen. It was a suitable book for discussion given that the sex content is not graphic. Sex itself is not even mentioned! Now, rereading it about fifty years later, Time for a reread! Now, rereading it about fifty years later, what I enjoy most is the prose. Published in and describing events a century earlier, the prose style is markedly different from what we are used to today.
Although the words the author uses to describe nature, events and emotions are not those we would use today, it was never hard to understand. I found the writing lyrical. Prose poetry is what comes to mind. Metaphors abound. A whole string of words are used rather than merely one or two, but there is meaning in what is said and each word serves a purpose. The writing has content, and I found it to be pretty. This book, written so many years ago and about Puritans with strict religious and moral beliefs, remains relevant today.
What it is that makes public disapproval soften is dealt with too. The book stands the test of time in its ability to speak to us even today. It is this that makes the book a classic. The book does not deliver a sermon. Instead, it mirrors how people behave. Circumstances have changed but not how people behave and think, and not how we treat one another.
The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Ian Lynch. I advise against choosing this particular audiobook. Hawthorne did work in the Boston Custom House but that he found such an embroidered cloth is not true. Yet it is around this fictitious cloth that the story is woven. For this reason, the introduction needs to be here. Furthermore, if a portion of a book is removed, the book has been abridged and listeners should be told! A second reason for not choosing this narration is the tone Lynch employs in the dialog passages.
The voices used for the female characters are atrocious. They are fake, shrill and exaggerated. As Hester looks out over the crowd, she notices a small, misshapen man and recognizes him as her long-lost husband, who has been presumed lost at sea. When the husband sees Hester's shame, he asks a man in the crowd about her and is told the story of his wife's adultery. He angrily exclaims that the child's father, the partner in the adulterous act, should also be punished and vows to find the man.
He chooses a new name, Roger Chillingworth, to aid him in his plan. The Reverend John Wilson and the minister of Hester's church, Arthur Dimmesdale, question the woman, but she refuses to name her lover. After she returns to her prison cell, the jailer brings in Roger Chillingworth, a physician, to calm Hester and her child with his roots and herbs.
He and Hester have an open conversation regarding their marriage and the fact that they were both in the wrong. Her lover, however, is another matter and he demands to know who it is; Hester refuses to divulge such information. He accepts this, stating that he will find out anyway, and forces her to hide that he is her husband. If she ever reveals him, he warns her, he will destroy the child's father.
Hester agrees to Chillingworth's terms although she suspects she will regret it. Following her release from prison, Hester settles in a cottage at the edge of town and earns a meager living with her needlework, which is of extraordinary quality. She lives a quiet, somber life with her daughter, Pearl, and performs acts of charity for the poor. She is troubled by her daughter's unusual fascination with Hester's scarlet "A".
The shunning of Hester also extends to Pearl, who has no playmates or friends except her mother. As she grows older, Pearl becomes capricious and unruly. Her conduct starts rumors, and, not surprisingly, the church members suggest Pearl be taken away from Hester.
Hester, hearing rumors that she may lose Pearl, goes to speak to Governor Bellingham. With him are ministers Wilson and Dimmesdale. Hester appeals to Dimmesdale in desperation, and the minister persuades the governor to let Pearl remain in Hester's care. Because Dimmesdale's health has begun to fail, the townspeople are happy to have Chillingworth, a newly arrived physician, take up lodgings with their beloved minister.
Being in such close contact with Dimmesdale, Chillingworth begins to suspect that the minister's illness is the result of some unconfessed guilt. He applies psychological pressure to the minister because he suspects Dimmesdale is Pearl's father.
One evening, pulling the sleeping Dimmesdale's vestment aside, Chillingworth sees a symbol that represents his shame on the minister's pale chest.
Tormented by his guilty conscience, Dimmesdale goes to the square where Hester was punished years earlier. Climbing the scaffold, he admits his guilt but cannot find the courage to do so publicly.
Hester, shocked by Dimmesdale's deterioration, decides to obtain a release from her vow of silence to her husband. Several days later, Hester meets Dimmesdale in the forest and tells him of her husband and his desire for revenge. She convinces Dimmesdale to leave Boston in secret on a ship to Europe where they can start life anew.
Renewed by this plan, the minister seems to gain new energy. On Election Day, Dimmesdale gives what is called one of his most inspired sermons. But as the procession leaves the church, Dimmesdale climbs upon the scaffold and confesses his sin, dying in Hester's arms. Later, most witnesses swear that they saw a stigma in the form of a scarlet "A" upon his chest, although some deny this statement.
Chillingworth, losing his will for revenge, dies shortly thereafter and leaves Pearl a substantial inheritance.
After several years, Hester returns to her cottage and resumes wearing the scarlet letter. When she dies, she is buried near the grave of Dimmesdale, and they share a simple slate tombstone engraved with an escutcheon described as: The major theme of The Scarlet Letter is shaming and social stigmatizing, both Hester's public humiliation and Dimmesdale's private shame and fear of exposure.
Notably, their liaison is never spoken of, so the circumstances that lead to Hester's pregnancy, and how their affair was kept secret never become part of the plot. This combination of "dreaminess" and realism gave the author space to explore major themes.
The experience of Hester and Dimmesdale recalls the story of Adam and Eve because, in both cases, sin results in expulsion and suffering. But it also results in knowledge — specifically, in knowledge of what it means to be immoral. For Hester, the Scarlet Letter is a physical manifestation of her sin and reminder of her painful solitude. She contemplates casting it off to obtain her freedom from an oppressive society and a checkered past as well as the absence of God.
Because the society excludes her, she considers the possibility that many of the traditions upheld by the Puritan culture are untrue and are not designed to bring her happiness. As for Dimmesdale, the "cheating minister", his sin gives him "sympathies so intimate with the sinful brotherhood of mankind, so that his chest vibrate[s] in unison with theirs.
The subtlety is that the minister's belief is his own cheating, convincing himself at every stage of his spiritual pilgrimage that he is saved. The rose bush's beauty forms a striking contrast to all that surrounds it; as later the beautifully embroidered scarlet "A" will be held out in part as an invitation to find "some sweet moral blossom" in the ensuing, tragic tale and in part as an image that "the deep heart of nature" perhaps God may look more kindly on the errant Hester and her child than her Puritan neighbors do.
Throughout the work, the nature images contrast with the stark darkness of the Puritans and their systems. Chillingworth's misshapen body reflects or symbolizes the anger in his soul, which builds as the novel progresses, similar to the way Dimmesdale's illness reveals his inner turmoil.
The outward man reflects the condition of the heart; an observation thought inspired by the deterioration of Edgar Allan Poe , whom Hawthorne "much admired". Another theme is the extreme legalism of the Puritans and how Hester chooses not to conform to their rules and beliefs. Hester was rejected by the villagers even though she spent her life doing what she could to help the sick and the poor. Because of the social shunning , she spent her life mostly in solitude and would not go to church.
As a result, she retreats into her own mind and her own thinking. Her thoughts begin to stretch and go beyond what would be considered by the Puritans as safe or even Christian. She still sees her sin, but begins to look on it differently than the villagers ever have. She begins to believe that a person's earthly sins do not necessarily condemn them. She even goes so far as to tell Dimmesdale that their sin has been paid for by their daily penance and that their sin will not keep them from getting to heaven, however, the Puritans believed that such a sin surely condemns.
But Hester had been alienated from the Puritan society, both in her physical life and spiritual life. When Dimmesdale dies, she knows she has to move on because she can no longer conform to the Puritans' strictness.
Her thinking is free from religious bounds and she has established her own different moral standards and beliefs. It was long thought that Hawthorne originally planned The Scarlet Letter to be a shorter novelette , part of a collection named Old Time Legends , and that his publisher, James Thomas Fields , convinced him to expand the work to a full-length novel.
Fields persuaded Hawthorne to publish The Scarlet Letter alone along with the earlier-completed "Custom House" essay but he had nothing to do with the length of the story. It was the last Salem home where the Hawthorne family lived. A 2,copy second edition included a preface by Hawthorne dated March 30, , that stated he had decided to reprint his Introduction "without the change of a word The only remarkable features of the sketch are its frank and genuine good-humor As to enmity, or ill-feeling of any kind, personal or political, he utterly disclaims such motives".
The Scarlet Letter was also one of the first mass-produced books in America. In the mid-nineteenth century, bookbinders of home-grown literature typically hand-made their books and sold them in small quantities.
The first mechanized printing of The Scarlet Letter , 2, volumes, sold out within ten days,  and was widely read and discussed to an extent not much experienced in the young country up until that time. On its publication, critic Evert Augustus Duyckinck , a friend of Hawthorne's, said he preferred the author's Washington Irving -like tales.
Another friend, critic Edwin Percy Whipple , objected to the novel's "morbid intensity" with dense psychological details, writing that the book "is therefore apt to become, like Hawthorne, too painfully anatomical in his exhibition of them". On the other hand, 20th-century writer D. Lawrence said that there could not be a more perfect work of the American imagination than The Scarlet Letter. One can often return to it; it supports familiarity and has the inexhaustible charm and mystery of great works of art.
The Scarlet Letter has inspired numerous film, television, and stage adaptations, and plot elements have influenced several novels, musical works, and screen productions. In March , Manga Classics Inc. Chan, art by Sunneko Lee. While the manga kept the traditional black and white artwork, it highlighted the scarlet 'A' in the text by colorizing only this image on pages.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Scarlet Letter disambiguation. This article's lead section does not adequately summarize key points of its contents. Please consider expanding the lead to provide an accessible overview of all important aspects of the article. Please discuss this issue on the article's talk page. April Dewey Decimal. This section possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations.
Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. December Learn how and when to remove this template message. Main article: The Scarlet Letter in popular culture. Novels portal. A Romance 2 ed. Ticknor, Reed and Fields. Retrieved July 22, — via Internet Archive. Hawthorne in Concord.
New York: Grove Press,