The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter

Posted by jack_miller | Published 5 months ago



With 3882 ratings

By: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Curtis Sisco, et al.

Purchased At: $7.99

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s magnum opus exploring the themes of legalism, sin and guilt.

I read The Scarlet Letter in high school and I thought it was one of he driest reads I've ever had to muddle through. Although, now that I'm older with adult children, I decided to read it again. This time it was much better and I was able to sympathize with Hester and admire her attitude. She was a strong woman! Being the second time I've read this book, I knew the characters and their roles, and I was carefully paying attention to the key players. I was not pleased with one certain male and thought he was a sniveling idiot with no backbone.

I'm glad I gave this book a second chance. Sometimes, the classics we are forced to read in school need life experience to appreciate what the message the author was trying to convey. For me, this was one of those classics.

- lukas_martin

Hester Prynne is my favorite literary heroine!
I know that’s not how others may characterize her but all I saw was a woman of immense internal strength in the face of shame and suffering.
I found myself admiring her and suffering alongside this brave and beautiful woman.

I never had the chance to read this in high school and I’m so glad I waited. Any book assigned as a school project made me approach it as a prison meal... but this time I was able to approach it as a 5 star banquet spread.

I took my time savoring the archaic language and the poetic phraseology. I lingered as Hester was forced to bear the shame of youth and religiosity. I tried to absorb the despair and find the strength that she was forced to find and soon I learned to love her as though I had known her and her agony personally.

Nathanial Hawthorne has brilliantly critiqued the human condition and masterfully described the burden of shame, hypocrisy, vengeance and triumph.

This book is one for the ages!

A must buy if ever there was one.

- brendan_thomas

Do yourself a favor, and do NOT buy the American Renaissance version of this book. Like others have said, this is poorly formatted with wide pages and small type. On top of that, it begins at chapter 1 and does not include The Custom House introduction like any version of The Scarlet Letter should. And then to top it off, the book started falling apart at the binding as soon as I opened it. Terrible copy. I will not purchase this brand again.

- blake_roberts

I heard so many times that this book is incredibly boring, but I decided to give it a chance and it actually isn’t that bad. It’s the story of Hester Prynne, who has an affair and gets pregnant and the way that the Puritan community she lives in reacts to that. She is forced to wear a scarlet “A” on her dress so nobody ever forgets that she’s a sinner.

It’s always a bit strange reading books like these in the 21st century. On one hand, I understand that it was a different time and people had different values and I don’t think we should pretend history was any better than it actually was. On the other hand, it makes me so mad when I think of the horrible way women used to be treated and the fact that there are still some places in the world where a woman like Hester would be punished even worse than she was in this book.

It’s a short book, though it drags in some places because Hawthorne loves unnecessary details. But he’s very good at making you understand exactly what the characters are feeling. The book is full of his observations about human nature and I’d say it’s worth reading because of that even if you have no interest in the plot.

- tyler_garcia

Wish I could give it less than 1 star. I should have ready the reviews, but one would presume a book to be what it says, the book, in it's entirety. Shocked to find this was only the first half the book and ends mid sentence. After seeing others who already knew this I will be much more diligent in reading reviews before a purchase. Why is this still for sale? Why has it not been pulled?

- miguel_ramos

I got the mass market paperback and it can exactly as pictures. Near perfect condition, there was some kind of marking on the front. Really great price for what it's worth. Came quickly. Words are kinda small.

- rebecca_thomas

This is a great book. I tried to read The Scarlet Letter years ago. I put it down after reading about 30 pages because the old English writing was terrible to weed through. This NO FEAR series is wonderful. The left hand side of the book has the original version with the right hand side of the page written in today's language, making it easy to understand. Very nicely done!

- phoenix_morales

A masterpiece of 19th century American literature, and a glimpse into the lives of the early Puritans (Boston, 1660s).
The prologue, leading to the tale of the discovery of the story (the Scarlet Letter is presented as a story-within-a-story) is long and leaves the reader impatient. Since it pertains to a different location and time from the main story, it is not quite clear how it enhances the tale.
The depictions of human feelings are exquisitely detailed, which is fairly remarkable because they are almost invariably gloomy feelings of guilt and shame. The pace, very slow at first, picks up towards the dramatic denouement, followed by a rather unsatisfactory conclusion. One wishes that the author would have thumbed his nose at the Puritans and allowed Hester Prynne a happy life ever after, but Hawthorne does not violate the moral conventions of the age and the conclusion would therefore have satisfied the most moralistic readers. No happy ending here, except for the one innocent character, so everyone who sinned paid the price, amen.
Seen in the light of the moral tradition in which the novel is set, and the barely less strict society in which it was written, the quality of the writing serves the purpose of moral edification beautifully. The long sentence, with their complex embedded clauses and dated vocabulary, is sometimes hard to follow, but always limpid once parsed. In that sense it is reminiscent of another moral tale of the age, Melville's Moby Dick, minus the see and with a different capital sin involved.
Overall, this is one of the canons of literature that should be part of the weel-educated reader's collection.

- eric_nelson

This mid 19th century American classic novel is very much set within the ethos and mores of the Puritan community in New England in the mid 17th century. A young woman Hester Prynne with a baby (Pearl) is humiliated by the community and marked with the eponymous letter A for adultery (though the word is never used in the book). The story is about her relationship with her daughter, with an old doctor who is revealed to be her ex-husband, and with the clergyman who is Pearl's father. The story is told within a framework narrative, with an over-long introduction describing the author's personal experiences working in a custom house, where he purported to have found old documents describing Hester's story. Hawthorne is clearly sceptical of the grim joylessness of extreme Puritanism, when he describes one of their rare festive events thus: "Into this festal season of the year ............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 novel is very well written and needs to be read in relatively small doses truly to appreciate the language, though it is short at only 138 pages.

- viviana_hernandez

A religious/Christian psychodrama concerned with guilt, sin, redemption, this gets very fevered at times with first Pearl and then Chillingworth being associated with the devil.

There are interesting secular themes, too, about identity, forms of authority, and the individual vs. society. But gosh, Hawthorne is heavy-handed with his symbolism!

From the 'scarlet letter' itself which has multiple manifestations and interpretations to in-your-face instances of meteors, beams of sunshine and roses, Hawthorne is constantly beating us over the head to make sure we 'get' his figurative subtexts. Slightly more subtle are visions of Pearl flirting with her reflection in a stream, echoing both Ovid's Narcissus and Milton's Eve.

Definitely more akin to The Pilgrim's Progress than Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

- davion_cox

A religious/Christian psychodrama concerned with guilt, sin, redemption, this gets very fevered at times with first Pearl and then Chillingworth being associated with the devil.

There are interesting secular themes, too, about identity, forms of authority, and the individual vs. society. But gosh, Hawthorne is heavy-handed with his symbolism!

From the 'scarlet letter' itself which has multiple manifestations and interpretations to in-your-face instances of meteors, beams of sunshine and roses, Hawthorne is constantly beating us over the head to make sure we 'get' his figurative subtexts. Slightly more subtle are visions of Pearl flirting with her reflection in a stream, echoing both Ovid's Narcissus and Milton's Eve.

Definitely more akin to The Pilgrim's Progress than Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

- nicole_chavez

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