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The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter
Audiobook2 hours

The Scarlet Letter

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

3/5

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About this audiobook

Scarlet is the color of sin, and the letter 'A' stands for 'Adultery'. In the 1600s, in Boston, Massachusetts, love was allowed only between a husband and a wife. A child born outside marriage was a child of sin. Hester Prynne must wear the scarlet letter on her dress for the rest of her life. How can she ever escape from this public shame? What will happen to her child, growing up in the shadow of the scarlet letter? The future holds no joy for Hester Prynne. And what will happen to her sinful lover - the father of her child?
LanguageEnglish
Release dateDec 27, 2007
ISBN9780194215725
Author

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Born in 1804, Nathaniel Hawthorne is known for his historical tales and novels about American colonial society. After publishing The Scarlet Letter in 1850, its status as an instant bestseller allowed him to earn a living as a novelist. Full of dark romanticism, psychological complexity, symbolism, and cautionary tales, his work is still popular today. He has earned a place in history as one of the most distinguished American writers of the nineteenth century.

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Reviews for The Scarlet Letter

Rating: 3.010536807632066 out of 5 stars
3/5

7,023 ratings147 reviews

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  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    This is one of the best books I "had" to read in high school. I think it had something to do with teaching me how wrong it is to judge others.
  • Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
    2/5
    yawwwn, shutup hester. not hester.. shutup nathaniel.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    This is one of the most beautifully and intelligently written works I have ever come across. It's just brilliant.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    This was required reading for English class. Now that I think about it--it does seem odd that a school would have us reading about a woman being punished for adultery--well, the adultery part in a school book seems odd--though if they were going to have us read about adultery, I don't find it so odd that they would have it be this book. I remember our teacher saying "if you're reading the Cliff Notes, you already know who the baby's father is"--and it was true! The Cliff Notes did reveal the baby's father long before the book did. (But I won't reveal who it was here to avoid any spoilers.)
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    I'm not a big Classics fan but I do try to read a few each year. This time my Book Club chose A Scarlet Letter because of the Puritan connection and Thanksgiving time-frame. I had never read this book even in high school though I thought I knew the basics. There were aspects of the story to which I was unaware and it added a bit to the story IMO. However, the treatment of anyone - man, woman, or child - in manner, saddened me so I think that it did give me a greater reason to be thankful for the blessings I have.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    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.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    One of the best classic books I've read.This book seriously got me thinking about the terms of sexism and feminism. The story was very easy to follow, and just overall a great read.
  • Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
    1/5
    No fan of this classic. I get why it's considered a masterpiece, but it also seems to me as if the biggest fans judge from a position where the moral of a story is more important than the story itself.Over the course of this novel, we sadly get to know nothing of the inner workings and conditions of the characters, nothing but what the few, very reduced and stilted lines of dialogue reveal of which each additionally gets commented on by the narrator. This narrator is so far detached from the events and the persons who were involved that the whole thing reads like a historical report, with the additional effect that the characters have no nuances or real personalities. Everyone, men and women alike (though apart from Hester, women don't play any important part anyway) are Puritans and nothing else - only concerned with their soul's salvation, their morals and most of all the morals of others, with nothing distinguishing them from each other or giving them individuality. Hester herself is obviously different, but even with her we get to know nothing about her motivations and development, the reasons why she acts like she acts. The only character who breaks the mould is Pearl, and only because she's consistently described as different and weird.These shortcomings are actually a real pity, because I really liked the story itself, as a thought experiment and insight into a society that is . The theme of shame, stigma and the way how a society is held together by common morals give the frame for a tale that is, with the view of a modern reader, unbelievably full of bigotry, mercilessness, sexism, self-pity and factitiousness. Unfortunately, the way Hawthorne handles it, it's more like a sermon to be preached from a pulpit than a story to be told at a campfire. Cautionary and lecturing instead of entertaining, and no effort was made to combine both.On the topic of style, I guess Hawthorne really loved to hear himself talk. The introductory "Custom House" sketch took 1,5 hours in the audio version and nearly caused a dnf tag. There was no substance, nothing with any tangible insight, just rambling and digressing and going off on tangents that ultimately went nowhere, preferrably in run-on sentences that put half a dozen ideas into a single paragraph.Yes, I know, it's the style of the time and I can't expect modern efficiency in storytelling in a novel from 1850. Actually, I don't even want to. And still, it's so far over the top that it becomes tedious very fast. Pride and Prejudice is from 1813, and stylistically it's so much more varied and interesting, with real dialogue where not every line gets a comment and real characters the reader can understand and relate to.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    I first read The Scarlet Letter in high school. I read it again about ten years later. After learning an ancestor's wife, although not the one from whom I descend, likely inspired Hawthorne's story, I became interested in the story again and read it about a dozen years ago. This summer AudioSync offered a free download of the version narrated by Donada Peters. I really enjoyed the listening experience. Although the narrator's voice was British, she did a great job narrating the colonial New England Puritan story featuring a woman forced to wear a scarlet A upon her breast. The father the Rev. Arthur Dimsdale suffered more than she because he failed to publicly confess his sin. The woman's husband, living under the assumed name of Roger Chillingsworth, was the clergyman's doctor and tormentor. The classic story reads differently than modern novels, but never fails to provide material for thought. It continues to be studied in schools because of its ability to be discussed. I enjoyed my revisit to Puritan New England through this audio production.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    I had put off reading this book for a long time because the reviews for it were not always glowing. I finally decided that this is an American classic and I needed to read it. Besides, I teach about the time period, and spent a full day at the Old Manse where Hawthorne wrote it down in Concord two summers ago.

    I am glad I read this book but was not overly impressed. I got the feeling that Hawthorne was pretty darned impressed with himself and his writing ability. The story is famous so I won't spend time reviewing the plot or anything, but I have to say that a majority of the book was spent flushing out the thoughts and psyches of the main characters. I understand that the book was full of symbolism and was a criticism of society in many ways, but as a novel, it did not really keep me turning the pages.

    I would recommend this for serious readers or for students of early American history. It is not a light read, and I would suggest reading it in one or two sittings because it is tough to gear up and come back to day after day.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    Somehow I'd never read this book in school, and recently picked it up. I was surprised at the sophistication of the characters' psychology.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    I know it's a "classic", but I thought it was only average.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    First time reading this verified American classic tale. While short, I found it very ponderous and uneven. The Introductory sketch of the Customs House was very long winded and fell far short of being interesting. My appetite picked up as we started into the well known story of Hester and the Scarlett Letter "A". Most of the book was overwritten and flowery for my taste, but I do acknowledge passages of brilliant prose and a mystically gothic ambiance. There were a lot of diversions and descriptions of forests, brooks, and the town along the way. Not the most enjoyable read for me.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    It is always a bit disturbing reading books like this one that remind one of just how easy it could be for our modern, somewhat enlightened society to devolve into the brutish, closed-minded world our ancestors knew.