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It is 1642 in the Puritan town of Boston. Hester Prynne has been found guilty of adultery and has borne an illegitimate child. In lieu of being put to death, she is condemned to wear the scarlet letter A on her dress as a reminder of her shameful act. Hester's husband had been lost at sea years earlier and was presumed dead, but he reappears in time to witness Hester's hu It is 1642 in the Puritan town of Boston. Hester Prynne has been found guilty of adultery and has borne an illegitimate child. In lieu of being put to death, she is condemned to wear the scarlet letter A on her dress as a reminder of her shameful act. Hester's husband had been lost at sea years earlier and was presumed dead, but he reappears in time to witness Hester's humiliation on the town scaffold. Upon discovering her deed, the vengeful husband becomes obsessed with finding the identity of the man who dishonored his wife. To do so he assumes a false name, pretends to be a physician, and forces Hester to keep his new identity secret. Meanwhile, Hester's lover, the beloved Reverend Dimmesdale, publicly pressures her to name the child's father while secretly praying that she will not. Hester defiantly protects his identity and reputation, even when faced with losing her daughter, Pearl. Hailed by Henry James as "the finest piece of imaginative writing yet put forth in the country," Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is a masterful portrayal of humanity's continuing struggle with sin, guilt, and pride.


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It is 1642 in the Puritan town of Boston. Hester Prynne has been found guilty of adultery and has borne an illegitimate child. In lieu of being put to death, she is condemned to wear the scarlet letter A on her dress as a reminder of her shameful act. Hester's husband had been lost at sea years earlier and was presumed dead, but he reappears in time to witness Hester's hu It is 1642 in the Puritan town of Boston. Hester Prynne has been found guilty of adultery and has borne an illegitimate child. In lieu of being put to death, she is condemned to wear the scarlet letter A on her dress as a reminder of her shameful act. Hester's husband had been lost at sea years earlier and was presumed dead, but he reappears in time to witness Hester's humiliation on the town scaffold. Upon discovering her deed, the vengeful husband becomes obsessed with finding the identity of the man who dishonored his wife. To do so he assumes a false name, pretends to be a physician, and forces Hester to keep his new identity secret. Meanwhile, Hester's lover, the beloved Reverend Dimmesdale, publicly pressures her to name the child's father while secretly praying that she will not. Hester defiantly protects his identity and reputation, even when faced with losing her daughter, Pearl. Hailed by Henry James as "the finest piece of imaginative writing yet put forth in the country," Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is a masterful portrayal of humanity's continuing struggle with sin, guilt, and pride.

30 review for The Scarlet Letter, with eBook

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Hester walked across the room. She stepped upon her left foot, her right foot, and then her left foot again. One wonders, why doth she, in this instance of walking across the room, begin her journey upon the left foot and not the right? Could it be her terrible sin, that the devil informeth the left foot just as he informeth the left hand and those bewitched, left-handed persons amongst us? Why, forsooth, doth the left foot of sin draggeth the innocent right foot along its wretched journey from Hester walked across the room. She stepped upon her left foot, her right foot, and then her left foot again. One wonders, why doth she, in this instance of walking across the room, begin her journey upon the left foot and not the right? Could it be her terrible sin, that the devil informeth the left foot just as he informeth the left hand and those bewitched, left-handed persons amongst us? Why, forsooth, doth the left foot of sin draggeth the innocent right foot along its wretched journey from one side of the room to the other? She walked across the room, I tell you! Guilty feet hath got no rhythm...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Heather Lei

    The story, not bad. The style, unreadable. Here is who I would recommend this book to - people who like sentences with 4 or 5 thoughts, and that are paragraph length - so that they are nearly impossible to understand - because by the time the end, of the sentence, has been reached the beginning, and whatever meaning it contained, has been forgotten and the point is lost.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Johntaylor1973

    I found my old high school review of this book. Here's a little bit of my assessment. Apologiese in advance: If there is a hell, Hawthorne is the devil's sidekick, and the first thing you're given (after the stark realization that you're in hell, on fire, and this is going to last forever) is this book. And you have to do a 10 page paper praising the wondrous virtues of this massive waste of time. And after you've finished writing (in your own blood, mind you) your stupid paper, you are given an I found my old high school review of this book. Here's a little bit of my assessment. Apologiese in advance: If there is a hell, Hawthorne is the devil's sidekick, and the first thing you're given (after the stark realization that you're in hell, on fire, and this is going to last forever) is this book. And you have to do a 10 page paper praising the wondrous virtues of this massive waste of time. And after you've finished writing (in your own blood, mind you) your stupid paper, you are given another essay topic dealing with this same insipid book. Congratulations, this is what you'll be doing for eternity. Haha, I really DID NOT LIKE this book in HS, and it's part of the reason why I have always been apprehensive about US literature--especially the classics. Now I'm a TEACHER and I'm going to revisit this monolith of high school trauma and I'll go into it with as much of an open mind as possible. I did the same thing with Old Man and the Sea (I remember loathing that book when I read it my freshmen year) and the second time around I LIKED IT! I did not like either book because my teachers did not do a good job of selling it to me. There was little to no background, no setup, no explanation as to why we should read this--other than "ED Hirsch said you have to, so go read it." Teaching 101: never have your students read a book that you yourself do not enjoy. I think my teachers disliked both books, and it rubbed off on their students.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Eddie Watkins

    THIS BOOK IS ABOUT A PREECHERS SPERM IT HAS UPTIGHT PEOPLE IN IT

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bookdragon Sean

    "Behold, verily, there is the women of the Scarlet Letter; and, of a truth, moreover, there is the likeness of the scarlet letter running alongside her” Let’s talk a little bit about self-fulfilling prophecy. If an entire community, and religious sect, brand a girl’s mother as a sinner, whether justly or unjustly, then surely the girl will take some of this to heart? If the only world she has ever known is one when he only parent is considered ungodly, blasphemous and full of sin, then surely "Behold, verily, there is the women of the Scarlet Letter; and, of a truth, moreover, there is the likeness of the scarlet letter running alongside her” Let’s talk a little bit about self-fulfilling prophecy. If an entire community, and religious sect, brand a girl’s mother as a sinner, whether justly or unjustly, then surely the girl will take some of this to heart? If the only world she has ever known is one when he only parent is considered ungodly, blasphemous and full of sin, then surely she will begin to reflect some of these ideals? When the Puritans branded Hester with the Scarlet Letter, they also branded her daughter (metaphorically speaking, of course.) This novel is a political message directly pointed at the Puritans of early America. In their blind devoutness they almost cause the very thing they are actually preaching against. Ultimately, Hawthorne portrays the religious sect as hypocrites who are completely self-defeating in their actions. What’s the point in preaching a religion if you don’t fully adhere to its doctrine? There’s none. Actions have consequences, so does unjustified damnation. Indeed, in this the author establishes how some extreme piety can almost cause impiety. Religion can be taken too far. Christianity is built upon the principals of forgiveness, and repentance, not punishment and the shaming of the guilty. Well, what the Puritans perceive as guilty. Then there is the entire separate issue of the fact that those men of the cloth can be guilty too. Nobody is completely pure despite what they think. Hester’s biggest sin is getting pregnant outside of marriage. In their persecution of her they don’t consider how she could be the victim in all this. I’m not saying that she is, in this regard, but to the best of their knowledge she could well be. She could have been raped. They’re also unforgivingly sexist; they, again, consider Hester to be the guilty party without recognising that it takes two to do the deed. Their ignorance knows no bounds to the realities of life; they shield themselves with their religious virtue and do not consider that there is a harsh world out there. Men like this are dangerous, and in this Hawthorne establishes his message. “I have laughed, in bitterness and agony of heart, at the contrast between what I seem and what I am!” This is a very accomplished novel; it provides an interesting perspective on a crucial part of American history. It was an enlightening read, but toward the middle it’s focus did begin to dwindle. I felt like there were a few passages of convoluted and unnecessary narration. I mean this was short, though it could have been a little shorter. The middle was drawn out with some irrelevant events thrown in. I’m not entirely sure of their point. The language combination was also a little odd at times; it felt like the author had lifted certain expressions straight from Shakespeare’s vocabulary and infused it with his own. The result was a very disjointed and hard to read combination. The overall message of this piece of literature is what makes it a worthy read even if its delivery was a little pedantic at times. Overall, though, I do attest that this is a rather undervalued novel. The socio-historical context it provides is tremendous. This is a classic I’m very glad I read. The overall message of this piece of literature is what makes it a worthy read even if its delivery was a little pedantic at times.

  6. 5 out of 5

    y.

    oh god. hawthorne is that perpetually needy manchild of a writer, you know the one who peers over your shoulder while youre trying to read and keeps pointing out the parts of his own writing that he finds particularly good and/or moving. "yeah, see? do you see? see how i talked about how the rose is red, and then i talk about how hesters 'a' is red, too? do you see what im trying to do here, with the symbolism?" and its like that all the way through the book. *edit 12 september 2008: im tutoring oh god. hawthorne is that perpetually needy manchild of a writer, you know the one who peers over your shoulder while youre trying to read and keeps pointing out the parts of his own writing that he finds particularly good and/or moving. "yeah, see? do you see? see how i talked about how the rose is red, and then i talk about how hesters 'a' is red, too? do you see what im trying to do here, with the symbolism?" and its like that all the way through the book. *edit 12 september 2008: im tutoring with this for of my students, as her AP english teacher is teaching it as part of his curriculum. and yes, it still sucks as badly as i remember. actually, even more so, because now i have to teach it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter: A Romance, an 1850 novel, is a work of historical fiction, written by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is considered his "masterwork". Set in 17th-century Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony, during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and gui The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter: A Romance, an 1850 novel, is a work of historical fiction, written by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is considered his "masterwork". Set in 17th-century Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony, during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt. عنوانها: داغ ننگ؛ حرفی به رنگ عشق؛ زنی با نشان قرمز؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز ششم ماه آگوست سال 1976 میلادی عنوان: داغ ننگ؛ اثر: ناثانیل هاثورن؛ مترجم: سیمین دانشور؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، نیل، 1334، در 240 ص، چاپ دوم فرانکلین 1346 در 224 ص، سوم 1357؛ چاپ چهارم: خوارزمی؛ 1369؛ در 252 ص؛ چاپ پنجم 1385؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان آمریکایی - سده 19 م مترجم: مرضیه مهردوست؛ تهرا، پیام پویا؛ 1387؛ در 56 ص؛ مترجم: محمدصادق شریعتی؛ در 86 ص؛ تهران، گویش نو؛ 1387؛ با عنوان: زنی با نشان قرمز؛ در 127 ص؛ روشنگران؛ خلاصه داستان: «هستر پرین (شخصیت اصلی داستان)» زن جوان و متاهلی است، که گفته می‌شود: «همسرش سال­ها پیش به مسافرتی رفته، ولی هرگز برنگشته است، و همگان به یقین رسیده‌ اند که وی مرده است». داستان از جایی آغاز می‌شود، که «هستر» به علت ارتکاب زنا، با مهم‌ترین کشیش شهر «آرتور دیمزدیل»؛ صاحب بچه ­ای به نام «پرل»، شده، همان بچه، رسوایی و جرم و گناه بزرگ او را، آشکار ساخته، بنابراین «هستر» در زندان است. از او میخواهند که نام پدر بچه را افشا کند، تا او نیز محاکمه گردد. اما «هستر» بسیار وفادار و شجاع است، و از انجام آنکار، خودداری می­کند. حکم مجازاتش این است، که می­بایست همراه با فرزند حرامزاده ی خویش، در وسط شهر، و در پیشگاه عموم، بر روی سکوی اعدام بایستد، تا همگان او را ببینند، و نیز تا پایان عمر خویش، همواره باید، «داغ ننگ» یا «اسکارلت لتر» را بر روی سینه‌، و تن خویش داشته باشد، تا همیشه، به عنوان یک زناکار، میان مردم شناخته شود. او مجازات را با افتخار می­پذیرد، و در زیر بار رسوایی، و تحقیراتی که جامعه به او تحمیل می‌کند، شکست را نمی‌پذیرد، تا اینکه رفته رفته، با اعمال خیرخواهانه‌ اش، نگاه جامعه را به سوی خود تغییر داده، در انتهای داستان حرف «آ» بر روی سینه‌ اش، بجای نماینده ی واژه­ ی «آدالترس»، نمایانگر کلمه «آنجل» به معنی فرشته، تجلی میکند. ا. شربیانی

  8. 5 out of 5

    Werner

    Actually, I've read this book twice, the first time when I was in high school. Reading it again after some thirty years, I was amazed at the amount of meaning I'd missed the first time! Most modern readers don't realize (and certainly aren't taught in school) that Hawthorne --as his fiction, essays and journals make clear-- was a strong Christian, though he steadfastly refused to join a denomination; and here his central subject is the central subject of the Christian gospel: sin's guilt and forg Actually, I've read this book twice, the first time when I was in high school. Reading it again after some thirty years, I was amazed at the amount of meaning I'd missed the first time! Most modern readers don't realize (and certainly aren't taught in school) that Hawthorne --as his fiction, essays and journals make clear-- was a strong Christian, though he steadfastly refused to join a denomination; and here his central subject is the central subject of the Christian gospel: sin's guilt and forgiveness. (Unlike many moderns, Hawthorne doesn't regard Hester's adultery as perfectly okay and excusable --though he also doesn't regard it as an unforgivable sin.) But his faith was of a firmly Arminian sort; and as he makes abundantly clear, it's very hard for sinners mired in the opposite, Calvinist tradition to lay hold of repentance and redemption when their religious beliefs tell them they may not be among the pre-chosen "elect." (It's no accident that his setting is 17th-century New England --the heartland of an unadulterated, unquestioned Calvinism whose hold on people's minds was far more iron-clad than it had become in his day.) If you aren't put off by 19th-century diction, this book is a wonderful read, with its marvelous symbolism and masterful evocation of the atmosphere of the setting (the occasional hints of the possibly supernatural add flavor to the whole like salt in a stew). Highly recommended!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Peter Derk

    It's great to finally get back to the classics. It's been far too long since I read a book with careful intensity, noting throwaway lines that are likely to show up on a multiple choice or short answer test that misses the main themes of a book entirely while managing to ask lots of questions like, "In the fourth chapter, what kind of shoes was [character you don't even remember] wearing?" I was thinking maybe it would be nice to read a book like this without worrying about that stuff, just absor It's great to finally get back to the classics. It's been far too long since I read a book with careful intensity, noting throwaway lines that are likely to show up on a multiple choice or short answer test that misses the main themes of a book entirely while managing to ask lots of questions like, "In the fourth chapter, what kind of shoes was [character you don't even remember] wearing?" I was thinking maybe it would be nice to read a book like this without worrying about that stuff, just absorbing it for what it was and then moving on through my life drunk. Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. It's hard to know where to start with this thing. The prose itself is almost unreadable. Let me give you an example of what a sentence in this book is like: A man- who was born in a small town, which bore no resemblance to the town his parents imagined for him when they settled in the area over 40 years ago with every intention of starting a small business selling gift baskets online that sort of petered out after bigger companies like FTD caught onto the whole thing and ran the little guys out with predatory pricing- decided to go for a walk one day. I shit you not. Whenever I saw a dash I'd skip down to find the second dash, and usually managed to cruise through half a page to find the relevant piece where the prose picked up again. Word on the street is that Hawthorne, who published the book in 1850, actually wrote it to seem EVEN MORE old-timey than it was, which is pretty goddamn old-timey at this point. As far as I can tell, writing old-timey means: 1. Describing furniture and clothing in such exhaustive detail that royal wedding coverage appears shabby and underdeveloped. 2. Using commas wherever the fuck you feel like it. 3. Structuring the plot in such a way that you already know everything that's going to happen way before it does. Let's talk plot while we're on the topic. The plot is like Dynasty with all the juicy parts pulled out. I'm serious. All events could be summed up by video of a guy sitting in front of a sign that says, "Banging people isn't so bad" and winking from time to time. One of the characters is damned, and as she walks through the forest the bits of light that dot the trail through the canopy of trees literally vanish before she can walk into them. Now this would be fine in a book where the damned character was in the woods, say, leading an army of orcs. But in a book where the sexual and social mores of Puritan society are called into question, it kind of overdoes everything and kills the mood. So it all begs the question: What the fuck is going on with these classics? The Scarlet Letter, according to a recent study, is the sixth-most taught book in American high schools. It's very popular, and you can hardly enter a Barnes and Noble without seeing a new version with such awesome cover art that it almost tricks you into buying it. I have a frequent argument with my brother regarding what makes things (movies, books, whatever) great. To him, for example, a movie might be great because it's the first movie to usher in a new era in filmmaking, really redefining an era while paying a loving homage to the past. Context is important to him, and reading the stuff on the IMDB page is part of the movie experience in his world. For me, I don't really give a shit about context. Knowing that Hawthorne had certain feelings about Puritanism based on his ancestry doesn't really matter much to me. Finding out that the main character was based loosely on the author's wife doesn't really do a whole lot for me. In other words, I demand to be entertained on at least some level, and if the level of entertainment doesn't spur me on to dig deeper, I think that's a failure of the art and not an example of my own laziness contributing to my dislike of the art in question. Furthermore, when the prose is TOO challenging I am constantly thinking, "This is a book I am reading and here is the next line of this book." I am not at all swept up in the narrative and therefore don't enjoy it nearly as much. I like to think of books as being like magicians. Take a David Copperfield...the magician, not the book. His schtick is to do amazing tricks that appear effortless on his part, which is why they are, well, magical. David Blaine, on the other hand, performs feats that do not appear effortless whatsoever, and therefore far less magical. It takes a great writer to write a great book. It takes an even better writer to write a great book that appears nearly effortless. One might accuse me of rarely reading challenging books, and maybe it's true. I find myself drawn to books that compel me to finish them as opposed to those that I feel I have to slog through while other books are sitting in growing piles around my apartment, calling out to me with their promises of genuine laughs, heartbreak that is relevant to me, and prose that doesn't challenge me to the point that it's more of a barrier to the story than anything. Perhaps most telling, at the book club meeting we were discussing this last night, and an older lady asked a pretty decent question: "Why is this considered a classic?" There are two answers, one that is what the Everyman Library will tell you and one that I would tell you. Everyman would say that the book is a classic because it is an excellent snapshot of a historical period. It has a narrative set within a framework that allows us to better understand our roots as Americans. The issues of people's perceptions of women and rights of women are still very alive today. Overall, it gives us a chance to examine our own society through the lens of fiction, therefore re-framing the conversation to make it less personal and easier to examine without bias. Blah, blah, blah. I would say it's a classic because it was one of the more palatable books that came out during the period when "classics" were made. I would also point out that the canonized classics are never revised. We never go back and say which books maybe have less to say about our lives than they used to, or which might still be relevant but have been usurped by something that is closer to the lives we live today. I would also say that it continues to be taught in schools because the kind of people who end up teaching high school English are most often people who have a deep and abiding respect for these types of books and identified with these types of books at around that time in their lives. I think there are a lot of people out there who never liked these books, and rather than making their voices heard about what they think people should read they just drop out of the world of books altogether. My point is, I think this is a bad book. It's got low readability, even for adults. The plot is melodramatic. The characters are single-dimensional crap, the women being constant victims of the time and the men being weak examples of humanity. Also, a very serious story is halted in places where we are expected to believe that magic letter A's pop up in the sky like you might see in an episode of Sesame Street. It must have been a very exciting book in its time, without a doubt based on its sales. And if this kind of book is your thing, good for you. I don't begrudge you your joy. It's just not a book that I would ever dream of foisting on someone else, nor would I recommend reading it unless you are absolutely required.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kat Kennedy

    Modern society and a number of people seem somewhat confused about our ancestors. On one hand, they're dumbass peasants who attached BYOW (Bring Your Own Witch) to their barbeque invitations. 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. [im Modern society and a number of people seem somewhat confused about our ancestors. On one hand, they're dumbass peasants who attached BYOW (Bring Your Own Witch) to their barbeque invitations. 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. [image error] And borderline sluttery, but we don't complain about that part... 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: men can be bitches too!) is asking you to read this book, tell them their antiquated ideas of education are suppressing your self-actualized desire to learn in a mode that is both natural and effectual to one day becoming a valued member of society. 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. [image error] Or you could show them this picture and intimate through a series of eye-wiggles that this is THEM and you refuse to be a part of it. 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.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Rudder

    This was my third time reading The Scarlet Letter. The first time was during my junior year of high school. I actually enjoyed it, though literature of the nineteenth century was such a mystery to me then that I shied away from the creaky long words and felt proud of myself for succeeding in merely following the plot. When I first read it to teach it last year, I was enraptured. This year was the same. Hawthorne has such an impressive command over language. The eloquence of his language carries This was my third time reading The Scarlet Letter. The first time was during my junior year of high school. I actually enjoyed it, though literature of the nineteenth century was such a mystery to me then that I shied away from the creaky long words and felt proud of myself for succeeding in merely following the plot. When I first read it to teach it last year, I was enraptured. This year was the same. Hawthorne has such an impressive command over language. The eloquence of his language carries such depth that it's like reading poetry. I find myself underlining multiple sections on every page, wishing I had months to spend teaching the book, just so I could spend hours with my classes exploring the complex meaning and patterns unfolding in his language. (My students probably wouldn't find it as fun as I would, I betcha.) Reading the soap-opera-like plot is a guilty pleasure. Possibly because I'm accustomed to the quiet romance of nineteenth century novels, I find the love scene(s?) between Hester and her secret lover touching and sweet (I think I cried this time through when they were in the woods), where most people apparently find them stale and unrealistic. Even though the plot hinges on scandals and secrets, the novel is very much an exploration of human interior and motives, and I think Hawthorne creates very interesting characters. I love that, though Hester conforms to the austerity of her penance on the outside, Hawthorne occasionally affords the reader insights into her wild, turbulent, and rebellious interior. And I love Pearl. Oh, that silly little imp of evil. I really enjoy Hawthorne's use of symbolism throughout the novel--the letter, Pearl, the rosebush, weeds, leeches, light, darkness, the scaffold, Hester's hair, etc. I don't know if all the symbolism is super obvious or if it now seems super obvious because I shove it down my students' throats, but it is admittedly gratifying catching patterns and reaching conclusions that Hawthorne repeatedly supports throughout the book. It just makes my ego feel good. Next time I read The Scarlet Letter, I want to focus on the use of bird imagery to describe Pearl and on how Hawthorne's Romantic view of Nature and nineteenth century perception of women informs his interpretation/critique of Puritanism, a less "developed" American landscape, and Hester. I really like The Scarlet Letter. It may be on my top ten. But I think if I ever sat down to write my top ten, it would have about forty books in it. Nevertheless, based on my interest in The Scarlet Letter, I'm seriously considering rereading The House of Seven Gables, which, after being forced to read it before my freshman year of high school, is my most hated book ever. I have a feeling I might like it more now than when I was 12. (This review was from 2007. I've now read it several more times. It never gets old.)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    So I finally got to find out for myself what the majority of American high-schoolers are subjected to, and while I see the importance of a story like this and the ideas it presents in 1850, I think the subject matter is both outdated and irrelevant today. One might, of course, choose to point out that Hester Prynne's antics would still today be considered immoral in certain parts of the world, however the difference is that they probably wouldn't treat her so leniently as this seventeenth-centur So I finally got to find out for myself what the majority of American high-schoolers are subjected to, and while I see the importance of a story like this and the ideas it presents in 1850, I think the subject matter is both outdated and irrelevant today. One might, of course, choose to point out that Hester Prynne's antics would still today be considered immoral in certain parts of the world, however the difference is that they probably wouldn't treat her so leniently as this seventeenth-century puritan community in Boston did. Therefore, it is neither applicable nor particularly shocking. The most surprising thing was that she didn't get hung for her "crime" in the 1600s - a time when people were attached to boulders, thrown in a lake, and if they drowned they were innocent, and if they survived they were burnt as witches. I think the main problem for me is that a lot of The Scarlet Letter relies on the religious aspect instead of the social aspect. It's much harder to appreciate the tragedy of that blemish on Hester's soul when you're not religious. I expected a lot more ostracising and name-calling from other members of the community but most people talked to Hester like she'd done nothing wrong (though, they tended to stare at her scarlet letter) and her bad reputation didn't seem to affect her life massively. Like I said, Hester Prynne's real struggle was with how God saw her and if she could be forgiven in the afterlife. In fact, it didn't seem to me like much of the main story was about the scarlet letter attached to her bosom. If you don't know the story, basically Hester Prynne commits adultery that results in the birth of an illegitimate child, the ministers then rule that she should be forced to wear a scarlet letter 'A' for the rest of her life so she will be publicly shamed. This is at the beginning in the first couple of chapters. After that, the story is about finding out the identity of the father (no mystery at all), interactions between Hester and her husband, and the growth of Hester's illegitimate and really annoying child. The greatest strength of The Scarlet Letter is that it gives us Hester - one of the early strong female protagonists. She is far more feisty and willing to stand up for herself than most Austen (for one example) characters, but she also lacks the depth of personality that other nineteenth-century female creations have. But, beyond the scandal, I'm just not sure this book is worthy of its popularity. I had a look on sparknotes to try and see why the novel earned its masterpiece badge, and many of the techniques and themes explored are such as the use of night and day to be symbolic and the choice of names: "Chillingworth is cold and inhuman and thus brings a “chill” to Hester’s and Dimmesdale’s lives. “Prynne” rhymes with “sin,” while “Dimmesdale” suggests “dimness”—weakness, indeterminacy, lack of insight, and lack of will, all of which characterize the young minister. The name “Pearl” evokes a biblical allegorical device—the “pearl of great price” that is salvation." If it is this kind of small attention to details that makes a story so brilliant for you, then you might just love The Scarlet Letter. But I prefer something bigger, that moves or inspires or angers me. I don't want to have to analyse a text to discover how great it is, partly because I believe you can see symbolism in anything if you look hard enough (see: Shakespeare). It's not that I mind this nitty-gritty stuff being there, but I think it's a poor substitute for well-developed characters and plot.

  13. 5 out of 5

    James

    Book Review 4 of 5 stars to The Scarlet Letter, a classic romantic period tale written in 1850, 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 1850, 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 work against it... and it had been a while since I'd read the story. 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... ugh, let's throw some stones at that vixen! Phew... not that I got that out of my system... 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... show the "A" on a woman's chest... even down to something like Pretty Little Liars which has nothing to do with this book, but the villain simply goes by "A" in the first few books. 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... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Samadrita

    3.5/5 This is one of those books which can effortlessly lend itself to a variety of critical readings, each one of them as legitimate as the next one. 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 3.5/5 This is one of those books which can effortlessly lend itself to a variety of critical readings, each one of them as legitimate as the next one. 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 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?" My biggest quibble with the book is its insistence on viewing Dimmesdale as a co-equal sufferer as Hester, victim of his own mounting contrition and Chillingworth's insidious revenge. 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!" said the child, as if speaking partly to herself. "In the dark nighttime he calls us to him, and holds thy hand and mine, as when we stood with him on the scaffold yonder! 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!" Even the denouement is fashioned with the sole purpose of salvaging Dimmesdale's lost self esteem and paving the way for his atonement. 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.

  15. 5 out of 5

    F

    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.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    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. 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 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 1850'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... *cross-posted from my blog, the quiet voice.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    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.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Renato Magalhães Rocha

    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 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 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: it's a very interesting study of how people with their morals can be impacted by sin and guilt - especially when in a very puritan society. 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! - environment. The highlight for me is centered around Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale's inner conflict: it's greatly enticing to witness how a secret - and the guilt that revolved it - so well hidden would inflict on a physical wound. Not to mention the religion vs. sin debacle: the fact that Arthur was so strongly devoted to his god and his principles that a spiritual disease would eventually lead to serious consequences and turn out to be his demise is - simply put - a very rich topic to write and think about. 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: "But there was a more real life for Hester Prynne, here, in New England, than in that unknown region where Pearl had found a home. 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." Although I can admire the author's beautiful words, I still can't understand or relate to Hester's reasons. I can't help but wish that Hawthorne had put Hester Pryne under the same lights James used while painting Isabel Archer’s portrait. Rating: 3 stars.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    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 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 still inspirational.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Boom! Another case of youthful idiocy corrected. Probably the biggest problem with The Scarlet Letter is that we make kids read it while they’re still too dumb to appreciate it. 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. It’s not a bad thing! 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! Another case of youthful idiocy corrected. Probably the biggest problem with The Scarlet Letter is that we make kids read it while they’re still too dumb to appreciate it. 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. It’s not a bad thing! And but by no means is this book dull, either. I was engaged from start to finish. For those who have never heard of “words” or “books” before, The Scarlet Letter is the story of Hester Prynne, a woman in mid–17th century Puritanical New England who is shunned for her participation in an extramarital affair—one that produced a child (which is probably what gave her away). But instead of the focus of the book being on Prynne herself and the hardships of her living among a bunch of judgy McJudgersons, it’s rather about the revenge that is sought by the man she has wronged (i.e. her husband). The situation that follows comes to redefine the idea of sin and moral decrepitude. Of course, we’re talking Puritanical sin here where it’s off to the gallows if your sleeves are too short or if you’re caught smoking in the street. (God only knows what might’ve happened if anyone discovered you receiving a blowie in the horse alley that one time.) 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. Anyway, I’ve gotten sidetracked again. 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

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    4 stars for the richness of Hawthorne's language, the intriguing symbolism, and the way he delves into the human heart. That 40 page Custom-House introduction was still painful to plow through, though. Review to come. Initial comments: I tried reading this a few years ago and bogged down in the infamous introductory section, and quit. I need to give it another shot, though. Sneaky GR friends have told me that that section can be skipped, or skimmed....

  22. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    A wordy treatise on the aftermath of adultery on the couple who committed the sin/crime in the theocracy that was Massachusetts in the mid-1600s, The Scarlet Letter is interesting and I'm glad I read it, but I didn't care for it overmuch. 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 A wordy treatise on the aftermath of adultery on the couple who committed the sin/crime in the theocracy that was Massachusetts in the mid-1600s, The Scarlet Letter is interesting and I'm glad I read it, but I didn't care for it overmuch. 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.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Connor

    My Video Review: https://youtu.be/b8GilDA6DSY I went into this novel knowing very little about it beside the quick summary that was in the Easy A movie years ago. 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: https://youtu.be/b8GilDA6DSY I went into this novel knowing very little about it beside the quick summary that was in the Easy A movie years ago. 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 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.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    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. 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 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.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    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! 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, what I enjoy most is the prose. Published in 1850 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. It focuses upon guilt and the need to do penance for one’s sins. Let’s just exchange the word sins for mistakes or errors. The weight of one’s conscience can be heavier to bear than the punishment meted out by society’s legal institutions or even public opinion! 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. First of all, it lacks the author’s lengthy introduction entitled The Custom-House. In the introduction, Hawthorne informs readers that he had worked in the Boston Custom House and had there found a piece of cloth embroidered with the letter “A”. 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. Thirdly, the pacing is off; he pauses in the wrong places. Music is played between chapters. Do you like that? You may react differently, but this is my view. Choose another narrator, the choice is large.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    I don't really know why I liked this book so much. What on earth. “No man can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” This is one of those classics that is famous for basically being universally considered boring. I mean, just look at the 3.3 average rating. And you know what, I do not disagree. Hawthorne repeats every single thing he says eighty times because that's the style of the time. But the strength of the me I don't really know why I liked this book so much. What on earth. “No man can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” This is one of those classics that is famous for basically being universally considered boring. I mean, just look at the 3.3 average rating. And you know what, I do not disagree. Hawthorne repeats every single thing he says eighty times because that's the style of the time. But the strength of the message shines through. And despite the marketing, I'd argue this book isn't really about slut-shaming. The Scarlet Letter is about the effect of shame on people, both when external and when external. And it's an exploration of the roots of shame - the way our society's view of us can be a root into our view of us. This is a surprisingly complex book to analyze - with so much nuance added to every theme and symbol, it's hard to argue that this book is one-note. And the characters have some interest to them, too; Hester has some amazing moments, and Pearl is simply an icon. Listen, I'm not one to stan classics just because they're classics; classic books are books like any other and should be praised or criticized at will. But my experience with this book was completely different from the experience of other reviewers on this page. I do think having a good English teacher can be super essential in reading books like this; having a bad one is going to totally ruin your experience, and I get that. But I loved this book. Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube

  27. 4 out of 5

    Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)

    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? 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. Yes, this story does delve into the puritanical roots of the United States and our love/hate affair with sex, but I think it was timely but lessons can still be learned, even though sexual attitudes have mellowed. 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.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    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. 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 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 - 1850, 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. GOOD CHOICE HAWTHORNE. 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." My edition's intro concurs: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.Whee! America: fuck eh. 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: it's versatile enough to serve any function. 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: images like Dimmesdale standing on the scaffold in the middle of the night, in the stunning "Minister's Vigil" chapter, are awesome. (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.' He had the Puritan sense of it in the blood." Henry James responds that Hawthorne deals with those Puritan values "from the point of view of entertainment and irony. The absence of conviction makes the difference; but the difference is great." The question is, how much irony is there? My own sense is that Hawthorne struggled with it himself: that he was both a humorless old prick and smart enough to realize it: 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.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Fernando

    "No hay una sola punta en esa letra escarlata que no le haya pinchado el corazón." Nathaniel Hawthorne ha quedado en la historia como uno de los iniciadores de la literatura de Estados Unidos en el siglo XIX junto con Herman Melville (quien lo admiraba profundamente dedicándole el libro Moby Dick) y Edgar Allan Poe. Podríamos sumar también a Washinton Irving, Henry Longfellow y más tarde a Ambrose Bierce a este grupo de pioneros literarios. Escritor fecundo, nos dejó dos grandes novelas como son "No hay una sola punta en esa letra escarlata que no le haya pinchado el corazón." Nathaniel Hawthorne ha quedado en la historia como uno de los iniciadores de la literatura de Estados Unidos en el siglo XIX junto con Herman Melville (quien lo admiraba profundamente dedicándole el libro Moby Dick) y Edgar Allan Poe. Podríamos sumar también a Washinton Irving, Henry Longfellow y más tarde a Ambrose Bierce a este grupo de pioneros literarios. Escritor fecundo, nos dejó dos grandes novelas como son esta y La casa de los siete tejados, así también como una gran cantidad de cuentos, algunos de factura realmente notable y maravillosa, incluidos en Cuentos dos veces contados y Musgos de una vieja rectoría. Yo tuve este libro en el estante sin leer durante mucho tiempo (años para ser exacto), y como estoy poniéndome al día con una gran cantidad de novelas sin leer, decidí empezar con esta de Hawthorne. Debo reconocer la maestría del autor para plantearnos una historia que seguramente debe haber levantado críticas en la época que se publicó. Cabe destacar que Hawthorne nació en Salem y su bisabuelo, que se apellidaba Hathorne, sin la w, había sido parte de los inquisidores puritanos encargados de “cazar” y condenar decenas de mujeres por brujería. La letra escarlata, es una novela que nos deja una profunda reflexión sobre la moral, el castigo, las costumbres y la hipocresía reinante en la sociedad puritana de Nueva Inglaterra a comienzos del siglo XIX. Hester Prynne se erige como una de esas grandes heroínas que podemos encontrar en la literatura. Sufre la degradación, el desprecio y la condena durante siete años y es obligada a llevar el estigma de esa letra A en rojo escarlata, prendada al pecho, como castigo por concebir a su hija Pearl, en adulterio. Esa letra escarlata echará raíces que se clavarán como dagas en su corazón. Pero no atravesará este condena sola. A partir de que es expuesta en el patíbulo a la salida de la cárcel, emprenderá esta vida dura y sacrificada con su pequeña “niña-duende”, quien, a lo largo de los años será su sostén moral y motivo principal para seguir adelante. Lo maravilloso en Hester Prynne es que siempre mantiene su cabeza erguida, estoica, sin revelar nunca quién es el padre de esa niña, por la cual es obligada a lleva la A escarlata bordada en sus vestidos. Y es en base a esto que gira toda la historia. Es difícil ahondar más en el desarrollo de la historia porque se corre el riesgo de hacer spoiler, dado que no son muchos los personajes que desfilan por las páginas del libro, por lo que respetaré a aquel lector que se interese por leer la novela. A mí me gustó, aunque tiene cierta forma un tanto intrincada de narrar por momentos los sucesos. Dicen que leerla en inglés es aún más enrevesado. Yo soy un gran admirador de Hawthorne y es uno de mis autores preferidos. Su “negrura”, como diría Melville, es lo que más me atrae, dado que, cuando de cuentos se trata, tienen estos cierta oscuridad que paradójicamente les da un brillo particular y hacen que atraigan poderosamente mi atención y me entusiasme leerlos. Recomiendo fuertemente leer sus “Cuentos dos veces contados”, entre los que se incluyen Wakefield, de fuertes connotaciones existenciales en el que se puede percibir características que posteriormente desarrollaría en sus relatos Franz Kafka. La letra escarlata es un libro que todo lector de clásicos debe agregar a sus lecturas. La forma en la que Hawthorne nos relata la historia nos hace plantear hasta qué punto a veces lo moral o lo correcto pueden influir negativamente en una sociedad y en las personas si estos valores son aplicados en forma equivocada.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Fabian

    Once upon a time I took a Hawthorne class & got thoroughly hooked. Though I have not read all his short stories, all the novels I have and I've imagined them as being some of the best ever written. Maybe the stories themselves lack quicker plot/pace, but the writing is FLAWLESS. "Scarlet Letter", "House of the Seven Gables", "The Blithedale Romance" & "The Marble Faun" are all part of the literary canon because Mr. Hawthorne seems to touch upon very dark elements (sprites and devils... m Once upon a time I took a Hawthorne class & got thoroughly hooked. Though I have not read all his short stories, all the novels I have and I've imagined them as being some of the best ever written. Maybe the stories themselves lack quicker plot/pace, but the writing is FLAWLESS. "Scarlet Letter", "House of the Seven Gables", "The Blithedale Romance" & "The Marble Faun" are all part of the literary canon because Mr. Hawthorne seems to touch upon very dark elements (sprites and devils... magical fauns... haunted houses...). There is suggestion, which totally works for horror films, as well as these semi-horror tableaux. "The Scarlet Letter" is a quick read, a very interesting exercise in symbolism and mood. It is absolutely a ROMANCE. It is also undoubtedly a classic, since it relates to Salem's trials, early colonial tribulations, etc. Very relevant to U.S. history-- AND one of the best documents of being TRUE to oneself, above all. Sometimes sins can take a life all their own. Also, I must add that the moments of deus ex machina, here, with an enormous "A" ablaze in the middle of the sky, the searing of Dimmsdale's chest... all these may-have-beens, bordering on the impossible, make this a magical work. I feel accomplished--- knowing Hawthorne well enough, and still wholly dizzy in awe.

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