There was a fire in her and throughout her.
Hester Prynne’s husband had been abroad for years, maybe lost at sea. Many men used the opportunity to try to charm her. . . . There was only one Hester couldn’t resist.
When Hester’s sin is discovered, the townspeople of Boston force her to wear the scarlet letter as a stamp of shame. But Hester refuses to give up the name of the man she loves. She’ll protect him and their forbidden love—to the very end.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s masterpiece of dark romanticism is one of the most enduring stories about the price of unchecked passion. Beautifully presented for a modern teen audience, this is the must-have edition of a timeless classic.
Topics: Dark, Morality, Adultery, Love, Psychological, Colonial Period, Sexuality, Boston, Puritans, Allegory, Symbolism, Dark Romanticism, Tragic, Allegorical, Scandal, and Guilt
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I know that Hawthorne was trying to talk about guilt and sin but man, could it be a little more interesting? Please?more
But why should you read The Scarlet Letter? The events that make up the main body of the work were not contemporary to the writer so how could he posit a credible story that reflects a mindset of a society that he could not have possibly have experienced? But the thing is, he did. No, Hawthorne did not live in the 17th century; but he did live in a small town with a strong cultural legacy to that time and; family ties bound him to the history of which he wrote. He was living with the effects a Puritanical society that embedded itself into the political consciousness of his day and, actually still lives with us even now (Don't fool yourself that because we don't put people in stocks or force them to wear a scarlet "A" upon their breasts, that we don't excoriate adulterers, especially if they happen to be public figures.) Hawthorne builds the first bridge between the events of 1650 and 1850 by creating prologue in which he discovers the documents that purportedly contain the events of the main body of the story. The second bridge is the one created by the reader's connection to the text. The second bridge is a meta-literary experience that elevates the text from being an artifact to being historically relevant, something from which, like all history, we can extricate meaning to our current lives.
The Scarlet Letter is an exposition of how religious and political thought cohered to create an inheritance of our American culture: a paradox of sex and sexuality, religious freedom that incarcerates and the punishment that frees. Hester Prynne falls in love with a man and gets pregnant by him; but does not enjoy the benefits of marriage which apparently include not being shoved into a jail cell, being publicly called out for her sin, reminding everyone else of her indiscretion by wearing a red "A" upon her chest and, being pretty much excluded from town life. Had she been married to the man, this would not have happened. So, falling in love and having sex with the man is a sin when the sanctity of marriage is not conferred by the town-church; but falling in love and having sex with a man becomes the consecration of life affirming values when you add in the public endorsement of marriage. It's a fine line between hypocrisy and relative morality. Hester Prynne is punished for her transgression; but her moment in the the town square (wherein she is brought out before all the townspeople) is meant to be an occasion for her not only to renounce her sin; but to give up the name of her lover as well so that he too may be free of guilt. Only through renunciation can the opportunity exist for forgiveness. There is an celebratory atmosphere to the denunciation of Hester Prynne. A zealful, but compassionless event in which Hester Prynne's pride is sacrificed to the self-righteous crowd. Except that Hester doesn't renounce her sin, give up her lover's name and, the public does not forgive or even really seem inclined to do so (after all the punishment begins before the possibility of her renouncement.) Ironically, Hester Prynne's punishment actually does free her: Her isolation forms her into a woman of independent thought, devoid of the hobbling dictates of the Puritan community.
The Scarlet Letter offers a lot in terms of ideas as to who we were, who we are and through the second bridge, who we can be.
Redacted from the original blog review at dog eared copy, The Scarlet Letter; 01/03/2012.more
I'm also changing the read date because I don't think I read "The Custom-House" and a few other parts of the book before.more