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The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter


The Scarlet Letter

ratings:
3.5/5 (115 ratings)
Length:
2 hours
Released:
Dec 27, 2007
ISBN:
9780194215725
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

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?
Released:
Dec 27, 2007
ISBN:
9780194215725
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) was an American writer best known for his novels and short stories. Born in Massachusetts, Hawthorne was a descendant of some of the state’s earliest settlers. One of his ancestors, John Hathorne, was a judge during the infamous Salem witch trials. As a young man, Hawthorne attended Bowdoin College, where he met many notable figures including future president Franklin Pierce and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He then began his literary career as a magazine editor and sketch writer. Hawthorne would also produce novels such as Fanshawe, The House of the Seven Gables, and his most famous work, The Scarlet Letter.


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What people think about The Scarlet Letter

3.6
115 ratings / 148 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (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.
  • (2/5)
    yawwwn, shutup hester. not hester.. shutup nathaniel.
  • (5/5)
    This is one of the most beautifully and intelligently written works I have ever come across. It's just brilliant.
  • (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.)
  • (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.
  • (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.
  • (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.
  • (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.
  • (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.
  • (3/5)
    I first read this over thirty years ago in high school. I read it again this year because my daughter is now reading it in high school, and I enjoy discussing her assigned reading with her. I really love the plot and characters, but the pacing is slow and the prose is painful at times. For me, trudging through the book again was made worthwhile by the penultimate chapter, "The Revelation of the Scarlet Letter." The interaction between the four main characters reaches its peak in a most satisfying manner.

    Overall, I prefer the manga adaptation I read last year: [book:Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter23332877].
  • (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.
  • (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.
  • (3/5)
    I know it's a "classic", but I thought it was only average.
  • (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.
  • (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.
  • (4/5)
    A classic!
  • (5/5)
    I read this book in high school. I should probably read more of N.H.'s books. This is a captivating read and rings so true even today.
    Great book!
  • (4/5)
    It's been decades since I read Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, but I thought it would be interesting to listen to it while I cross stitch Christmas gifts. I had mercifully forgotten that Mr. Hawthorne had blathered on about his job and colleagues at the Custom House before he even started the story of Hester Prynne, Although the sketch of the Custom House and its employees isn't bad, I grew impatient to get to the real story. I'm not saying one should skip the entire first CD -- it does reach the point where our author finds the papers of Jonathan Pine and the old scarlet letter near the end. I just want to prepare you.The discussions about sin, guilt, remorse, and penance along the way are interesting, but the attitude of Salem townspeople toward Hester is infuriating, as is Pearl's father's cowardice and Hester's husband allowing the lust for vengeance to poison his soul. Hester was too self-sacrificing where Pearl's father was concerned. He wasn't worthy of her love. I don't care how guilty he felt because the town thought him a godly man when he was the sinner whose identity they tried to get from Hester. He still let her bear all the public infamy that belonged to both of them. Hester's husband was just as bad for placing all the blame for his behavior on her partner in adultery. He refused to take responsibility for freely choosing evil over forgiveness.You'll probably recognize human behavior that is still present, such as making up tidbits of gossip and refusing to believe the truth when told it.The book does provoke thought, but it also provoked considerable anger in this reader, at least.I liked Ms. Gibson's narration.
  • (4/5)
    Fascination story of punishment and the different ways that people can deal with it.
  • (3/5)
    It's a great historical reconstruction of the Puritan world in early New England, apart from its literary qualities which are also plenty. However, its fame owes a lot to the strong cultural lobby the ever powerful America carries over the world - for the same period there are hundreds of far more important and interesting authors in Europe.
    If high schoolers and obviously, American literature graduates, will be forcefed it, nineteenth century literature is maybe the quintessential era of writing.
  • (4/5)
    A really good story. Of course reading a classic is also like reading a different language. I struggled at times but got the gist of what they were saying (or Hawthorne's passages). It was helpful to read the introduction section by Nancy Stade.
  • (5/5)
    I originally read this book in high school. I reread it now, with two more decades of life experience. I've lived among Christians who revere the Puritan era. I've experienced social shunning. I'm a male living in the #MeToo era where one sin of sexual harassment can lead to career demise.

    In all of these situations, however, I side with Hawthorne's sympathies towards those who bear the brunt of social shunning. Or at least, I try to side. If social order must be enforced (and social order in the case of a pregnancy is an extreme but common example), then it must be enforced loosely. That's what prohibition, abortion, and the rest of the culture wars have taught us. It is foolishness to fight human nature.

    At the same time, those who are persecuted are often ennobled by their suffering, as Hester Prynne and Pearl were by theirs. The Scarlet A became not a sign of Adultery but of Ability for Hester. Hawthorne holds her up as a model, and I follow her willingly against those (on whatever side of the left/right/center cultural battles) who hold that purity ought to be externally enforced all the time.

    It is a tenuous foundation that we sit upon as Americans. We are often blind to the purity-seekers who more-or-less agree with us. Although we are considered a free country, we often bind up our fellow citizens in our quest for purity. Indeed, in so doing, we act like our forebears. Hawthorne reminds us of this well. Puritan New England is not that far away from us today.
  • (4/5)
    I read this book when I was in first year university, when I was just starting to get into classics.

    I bought this edition because it was really cheap, only $6.00 or so. So if I didn't like it, what did it matter? But I did like it - I absolutely loved it.

    The writing style was a little bit difficult to get into at first, the language is a little bit antiquated but it became easier to read. (I also hadn't read too too many classics at the time, so I was still getting accustomed to the language.)

    But I thought it was a worthwhile read. Hawthorne is a such a beautiful writer - I loved watching the characters' lives unfold, and I loved getting to know Hester. She's a brilliant heroine, a single mother, and there's something unassuming and brave about her. I love reading books about women and female characters and their lives, and this book was no exception.

    Hawthorne is a classic, gothic, romantic American writer, and I really, really liked this book. I thought it would be good, just like any other classic, but I didn't know how much I'd really enjoy it. c:
  • (3/5)
    I enjoyed the story but the writing was a chalenge at times. I do not mean that I could not comprehend it but the sentences were too long. This made the book drag on.
  • (5/5)
    This book marks the 8th book read on my Classic's List for the Classic's Reading Challenge. Reading this book for the first time I can honestly attest this popular classic completely lives up to its reputation. An outstanding example of classic literature possessing both lasting value and timeless quality. It's 1642 in Puritan Boston, Hester Prynne is an adultress who becomes pregnant after her husband leaves for sea and thus wears "the scarlet letter" for all to see her shame. Gossiped and scorned within the town she is morally condemned by a community whose ethics and values are paramount and unwavering. When asked to name the father of her child she refuses, thus infuriating those condemning ever more so. The father of Hester's child, Pearl is none other than the town's minister, Arthur Dimmesdale who must now wrestle with his own moral conscience. Committing a sin as well as keeping it secret. While publicly humiliated Hester is required to stand on a scaffold in the town's square as part of her punishment. At this time she spots her husband in the crowd who was believed to be lost at sea. He later visits the prison, wanting to seek revenge on the man, asks Hester who's the father of her child. Once again Hester refuses to name her lover but her husband vows to identify him. Thus ensues the love triangle. Reading this book was an absolute pleasure. Some might fight the language old fashioned and archaic, for me it was soothing and gratifying. I wish everyone would read this book. How I acquired this book: Gift from husband, Mother's Day visit to Moe's Books, Berkeley, CAShelf Life: 8 months
  • (3/5)
    Reception to The Scarlet Letter is divided into four camps - those who read it in high school and disliked it, to spite the people who liked it and their teachers besides; those who read it in high school and liked it, to spite the people who disliked it and show their intellectual superiority; those who feel a certain fealty to it by dint of its pedestal as the 'Great American Novel'; and finally the fourth camp, which is composed of people who read it and concluded it genuinely wasn't all that excellent.As you may have guessed, I'm in the fourth camp, and I am neither ashamed nor as proud as both those who like it and those who dislike it. I bear no ill-will towards long sentences or romanticism, nor do I have some ridiculous opposition (or sentimentality towards) 'classic literature'.My issues with The Scarlet Letter are mainly that it's very plot-heavy, which is problematic if only because said heavy plot is dragged down by its maudlin moments and its general heavy-handedness. Unfortunately for the adolescent faux-rebels against literary analysis, The Scarlet Letter is laden with very obvious and not particularly clever symbolism, and complaints about the artificiality and implausibility of the fruits of New Criticism, formalism and general close-reading, although somewhat meritorious with more interesting literature, do not apply here. It is very symbolic, but to the point where the lay-reader in the 1850s would be able to readily comprehend it in a surface reading.Is The Scarlet Letter historically significant? Absolutely. Is it the worst novel ever published? Absolutely not. Is it particularly good compared to its European contemporaries? In my opinion, no.
  • (4/5)
    While I enjoyed reading Hawthorne's commentary on the corrupt and illogical behavior of Puritan Americans, I thoroughly disliked his syntax. It was a laborious task to read a page. Once again, I agree with all his themes. I just wish he had written it better.
  • (3/5)
    This is from a compendium I have of Hawthorne's works, so I don't know the date. I believe I already read this in school (HS) but I don't remember it being so sluggish. Holy cow!!! Took a lot to get thru this and I slogged away. It is written on a higher reading level than most current books are. Ok but not fantastic. Kinda depressing....
  • (3/5)
    I read The Scarlet Letter (as an e-book) because my daughter (high school junior) was reading this in class. All I knew beforehand was that this is a famous classic novel and that the main character's name is Hester Prynne and that she wears a scarlet A indicating she was an adulterer.I guessed almost right away who her baby's father was. I wonder how shocked people back in the day were when they read this revelation (which happens later in the novel), and/or if they guessed as quickly as I did.Some bits were interesting, but too much of this read like sermonizing and went on and on. This is not a classic that struck a chord with me. My daughter feels pretty much the same way as I do.
  • (5/5)
    This book is about a woman who has just been released from prison after being charged for adultery. She has to wear the letter "A" on her as her punishment so everyone will know. The story carries on to her being pregnant and explaining what happens to her and the baby within the next seven years.Teach how to not pass judge anyone without getting to know them. Not caving into what society wants.High School