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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
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The Scarlet Letter (original 1850; edition 2011)

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
36,51837265 (3.38)2 / 987
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

In the puritanical Boston of the 17th Century, a woman gives birth after committing adultery. That woman, Hester Prynne, choses to create a new life for herself in the face of adversity rather than succumb to what is expected of her. She will not name the father. Her decision opens up the tension between religious life and the true grace of God, and between personal guilt, religious sin and legal guilt.

The novel is prefaced by a "real" account of the author finding notes on a case similar to Hestor's in a Custom House, from which he fashioned the story. The preface is to be read as fictional.

.
… (more)
Member:kevitos96
Title:The Scarlet Letter
Authors:Nathaniel Hawthorne
Info:Simon & Brown (2011), Paperback, 198 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:None

Work Information

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)

  1. 134
    The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts by Arthur Miller (SandSing7, Morteana)
  2. 124
    The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (chrisharpe)
  3. 31
    Elective Affinities by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (LCBrooks)
    LCBrooks: Allows for interesting comparisons on the subject of double marriage.
  4. 21
    Too Late the Phalarope by Alan Paton (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Sex and guilt in Calvinist cultures.
  5. 21
    Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker (tootstorm)
    tootstorm: Contains a lot of parallels between the two heroines. Acker's '77 novel also contains a scathing deconstruction of Hawthorne's the Scarlet Letter somewhere down the line. If you haven't heard of her, take note. She's worth the attention.
  6. 21
    Kamouraska by Anne Hébert (charlie68)
  7. 10
    The Scarlet Letter [1995 film] by Roland Joffé (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Fascinating interpretation. Very free and very different. Really an independent work of art. If not superior to the novel, certainly not inferior to it either. Good script, excellent cast, beautiful music.
  8. 22
    The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (chrisharpe, kxlly)
  9. 11
    Elsie Venner A Romance of Destiny by Oliver Wendell Holmes (Midnightdreary)
    Midnightdreary: Similar exploration of the question of sin, inherited or otherwise.
  10. 12
    Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell (CurrerBell)
    CurrerBell: Hester Prynne has a spunkiness that Ruth Hilton lacks.
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Showing 1-5 of 342 (next | show all)
I'm not sure if Hawthorne was trying to be ironic here, but he takes "your sin will find you out" all too literally, and though I understand he's only representing the hypocrisy of the time, I think it shows bad taste to be so obvious about it. I'm not convinced of the realism in this book at all, and I think the morals are misplaced and misconstrued; that's where this book suffers. Are we supposed to convict Hester or sympathize with her, because we seem to be getting mixed signals throughout? I particularly found the whole demon possession thing with Pearl a bit too much to swallow, where everything went all Exorcist (because I guess that's what happens when you're born a bastard). And Dimmesdale and Chillingworth's deaths are just too predictable and so convenient to wrap up the story. There aren't really any characters in this novel you can feel for, for nobody really has any feeling in them. Well, at least that's the way I felt about it. ( )
  TheBooksofWrath | Apr 18, 2024 |
Nathaniel Hawthorne is an excellent writer. But his unreserved mud-slinging at Christianity is appalling. This work is very revealing of the mindset of his times. But his screwing of Puritan beliefs has set precedent of hate against orthodox Christianity.
I agree with Whittier that his works retain a "weird and subtle beauty", but the reader must enter the story with an acute sense of discernment, if he is to pick out the many lies and subtle half-truths sown into this fictional account of the Puritans. ( )
  Aidan767 | Feb 1, 2024 |
As a reader who’s trying to explore my reading list, American Literature is one of my shelf. So far I had enjoyed Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby, and so I thought it will be fun to explore other period of American Literature, and Hawthorne’s name popped up from the movie Easy A. Then I bought this book, curious about the true fate of Hester Prynne. One thing for sure, this book is nowhere fun because the heavy phrases and all the allegories with its symbolism. But I really enjoy reading this book, drowned in Hawthorne’s thinking and everything.

There’s something strange in reading this book, as if you couldn’t get rid of spooky feelings chasing you pages after pages, specially after you gain new information which was told in the books but it feels like a secret whispered in your ear. As a woman I understand the deep sadness Hester had about her token: the scarlet letter, and the real scarlet letter: Pearl. The desolation and solitude she had to face created by the token in her bosom had been Hester’s reality in old Puritan World. Later on it was discovered by her vengeful ex-husband, Roger Chillingworth, that the young priest, Arthur Dimmesdale, was the father of Pearl. As the story goes by I thought Hester and Dimmesdale would face a painful reconciliation with Hester blaming Dimmesdale for her fate, thus I was in shocked to know they had actually love each other and Chillingworth was the awful man in their POV. I guess I should took it as a cue when Dimmesdale determined Pearl should be with her mother. In their relationship there was something ironic which was if for Hester it was a shame, for Dimmesdale it was a guilt.

I think Hawthorne strongly put his critics to the Puritan World back then. He was a strong Christian, and he didn’t approve Hester’s sin, but he also didn’t think it as some unforgivable sin. He showed that with how the Puritan’s society looked at Hester, it brought more trouble since Pearl and her mother couldn’t join the pray in curch (sermon). Meaning that in Hawthorne’s mind, it is not the job of human to judge other human.

I dislike Dimmesdale more than Roger Chillingworth so after knowing Hester loved Dimmesdale I couldn't see their chemistry and good relationship specially because Dimmesdale didn't get his social punishment, but I understand how was their love. That's why I give this book four stars rating. ( )
  awwarma | Jan 24, 2024 |
What makes a "classic" great?

The immersion into Puritan Massachusetts was at first enjoyable, but that is where my entertainment ended. I understand how a scandal of that time (and even many for today) can monstrously affect someone's life, but goodness... let's get to the point already!

Making school-aged kids read "classics" like this one feeds into their general boredom for literature. ( )
  rosenmemily | Jan 7, 2024 |
I enjoyed this more then I thought I would. I think that givven the concept and time period this was good. ( )
  b00kdarling87 | Jan 7, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 342 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (125 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hawthorne, Nathanielprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bakker, NelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baym, NinaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Benstock, ShariContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bercovitch, SacvanContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bonsanti, MarcellaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Canavaggia, MarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Claypole, JontyAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coetzee, J. M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Connolly, Thomas E.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cordelli, FrancoContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cox, James TrammellIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Diehl, Joanne FeitContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dwiggins, W AIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fernie, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Francisco, SellénTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frasier, ShellyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, FloNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harding, BrianEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, DickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Judge, PhoebeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leverenz, DavidContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Levin, HarryEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lonza, GiannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, John S.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martini, Fausto MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marx, LeoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murfin, Ross CEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pagetti, CarloContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ragussis, MichaelContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stade, NancyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tasso, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thomson, HughIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorp, WillardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valori, FrancescoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wauters, AnnieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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THE SCARLET LETTER

I. The Prison-Door


A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes.
[Introduction to Barnes & Noble Classics] The surname of the protagonist of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" suggests pride in sin and the sin of pride.
PREFACE

To the Second Edition


Much to the author's surprise, and (if he may say so without additional offence) considerably to his amusement, he finds that his sketch of official life, introductory to The Scarlet Letter, has created an unprecedented excitement in the respectable community immediately around him.
THE CUSTOM-HOUSE

Introductory to "The Scarlet Letter"


It is a little remarkable, that — though disinclined to talk overmuch of myself and my affairs at the fireside, and to my personal friends — an autobiographical impulse should twice in my life have taken possession of me, in addressing the public.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, born Nathaniel Hathorne, Jr., was the son of Elizabeth Manning Hathorne of Salem, Massachusetts, and a man he hardly ever saw: Nathaniel Hathorne, also of Salem.
--Introduction (Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press edition)
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This is the main work for The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

In the puritanical Boston of the 17th Century, a woman gives birth after committing adultery. That woman, Hester Prynne, choses to create a new life for herself in the face of adversity rather than succumb to what is expected of her. She will not name the father. Her decision opens up the tension between religious life and the true grace of God, and between personal guilt, religious sin and legal guilt.

The novel is prefaced by a "real" account of the author finding notes on a case similar to Hestor's in a Custom House, from which he fashioned the story. The preface is to be read as fictional.

.

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Book description
Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press edition contains the essays:

"Re-Reading The Letter: Hawthorne, the Fetish, and the (Family) Romance," by Joanne Feit Diehl

"Mrs. Hawthorne's Headache: Reading The Scarlet Letter, by David Leverenz

The Scarlet Letter (a)doré, or the Female Body Embroidered," by Shari Benstock

"Silence, Family Discourse, and Fiction in The Scarlet Letter, by Michael Ragussis

"Hawthorne's A-Morality of Compromise," by Sacvan Bercovitch
Haiku summary
Self-pity, yes, but
no pity for sinners, just
bigotry and hate.
(DeusXMachina)

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