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. Nathaniel Hawthorne s THE SCARLET LETTER reaches to our nation s historical and moral roots for the material of great tragedy Set in an early New England colony, the novel shows the terrible impact a single, passionate act has on the lives of three members of the community the defiant Hester Prynne the fiery, tortured Reverend Dimmesdale and the obsessed, vengeful ChillingworthWith THE SCARLET LETTER, Hawthorne became the first American novelist to forge from our Puritan heritage a universal classic, a masterful exploration of humanity s unending struggle with sin, guilt and pride 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 THIS BOOK IS ABOUT A PREECHERS SPERM IT HAS UPTIGHT PEOPLE IN IT The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel HawthorneThe 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 HawthorneThe 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 1976 1334 240 1346 224 1357 1369 252 1385 19 1387 56 86 1387 127 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, evenso, because now i have to teach it Behold, verily, there is the women of the Scarlet Letter and, of a truth, over, there is the likeness of the scarlet letter running alongside herLet 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 surelyBehold, verily, there is the women of the Scarlet Letter and, of a truth, over, there is the likeness of the scarlet letter running alongside herLet 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 messageI 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 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 fariron 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 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 s 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.Further, 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 Copperfieldthe 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 sof 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 thepalatable 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 Maybe 2.5 stars if I were just rating this on how much I actually enjoyed reading it The 40 page Custom House introduction was pure pain to plow through, no lie, and there are a lot of slow spots where Hawthorne gets hung up in the details But 5 stars for the richness of Hawthorne s language, the intriguing symbolism, and the way he delves into the human heart So I ll compromise at 4 stars.The Custom House part which is just a framing device seriously, I ll skip it if I ever read this agai Maybe 2.5 stars if I were just rating this on how much I actually enjoyed reading it The 40 page Custom House introduction was pure pain to plow through, no lie, and there are a lot of slow spots where Hawthorne gets hung up in the details But 5 stars for the richness of Hawthorne s language, the intriguing symbolism, and the way he delves into the human heart So I ll compromise at 4 stars.The Custom House part which is just a framing device seriously, I ll skip it if I ever read this again tells of a man who finds the fateful scrap of red cloth a scarlet A, beautifully embroidered with gold thread, along with a 200 year old manuscript telling the story of Hester Prynne This man then retells her story In the mid 1600s Boston is a Puritan settlement, so adultery was a huge scandal Hester Prynne is led out of jail in front of a crowd, her baby daughter Pearl in her arms, and with the scarlet A on her dress, standing for Adultress She s put in a scaffold and publicly shamed Her elderly husband has been missing for years, so it s clear he s not the father of Pearl But Hester resolutely refuses to name the actual father What she doesn t realize is that her long lost husband is in the crowd, hiding his identity from everyone except Hester Going by the name of Roger Chillingworth shivers , he settles in and patiently waits for his chance for revenge.Boston officials try to take Pearl away from Hester, but a young minister, Arthur Dimmesdale, pleads her case The popular Dimmesdale has his own problems a mysterious wasting disease and heart trouble Maybe just maybe his problems are mostly psychological And then the secretly suspicious Chillingworth decides to befriend Dimmesdale The use of a scarlet letter on clothing to publicly brand adulterers is a historic fact, but Hawthorne turns it into a potent symbol I loved this take on it, from an excellent critical review and analysis in The Atlantic We may realize its value, in the present case, by imagining the book with the scarlet letter omitted It is not practically essential to the plot But the scarlet letter uplifts the theme from the material to the spiritual level It is the concentration and type of the whole argument It transmutes the prose into poetry It serves as a formula for the conveyance of ideas otherwise too subtle for words, as well as to enhance the gloomy picturesqueness of the moral scenery It burns upon its wearer s breast, it casts a lurid glow along her pathway, it isolates her among mankind, and is at the same time the mystic talisman to reveal to her the guilt hidden in other hearts.The entire story each character, each event, people s appearances, even objects is filled with symbolism Light and darkness, sin and secrecy, suffering and redemption, all have a role It can be a little or a lot hard to wade through the old fashioned language and viewpoint of The Scarlet Letter, but it really rewards the reader who s willing to look deeper