Yup, we’ve got that one

And more than one million more. Become a member today and read free for two weeks.

Read free for two weeks
Enriched Classics offer readers accessible editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and commentary. Each book includes educational tools alongside the text, enabling students and readers alike to gain a deeper and more developed understanding of the writer and their work.

Set two centuries before Hawthorne’s own time, The Scarlet Letter follows heroine Hester Prynne who is compelled by her Puritan society to wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ on her clothes as a symbol of her sin: adultery. Accompanied by colorful and flawed characters, including the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale who broods over a long-hidden secret, and Hester’s husband Roger Chillingsworth who thirsts for vengeance, The Scarlet Letter, America’s first psychological novel, is a masterpiece that explores humanity’s unending struggles with pride, sin, and guilt.

Enriched Classics enhance your engagement by introducing and explaining the historical and cultural significance of the work, the author’s personal history, and what impact this book had on subsequent scholarship. Each book includes discussion questions that help clarify and reinforce major themes and reading recommendations for further research.

Read with confidence.
Published: Pocket Books on
ISBN: 9781416503057
List price: $4.99
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for The Scarlet Letter
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.
a really awesome book to read not only gave me knowledge but also caught a lot of my attention!?more
I honestly feel cheated that I was never required to read this novel in either high school or college. While I found the first chapter about how the author came upon the story of Hester Prynne while working at the custom's house terribly dull, I absolutely loved the novel that followed. The Scarlet Letter is a beautiful pairing of contrasts. While Hester is marked as an adulterer--a sinner, she gives freely of her time and talents to her community. While she is forced to wear the drab attire of the Puritans, her A for adulterer is beautifully crafted. While she is well known for her sin, she seems to hold the sins of others in a secret place in her heart. While she married for stability, she feel victim to her passions. All of these elements work to make a beautifully complex character the reader cannot help but empathize with. One of the themes of the novel I most identified with is the hypocrisy of the townspeople. While many of them have committed a similar sin they are happy to point their fingers at Hester and judge her. The only exception to this rule is the young woman who waits with others outside the jailhouse door as Hester appears before the public. She symbolizes the minority thought in the beginning and in the end of the novel. Her willingness to look at the world from a different perspective provides a window into Hawthorne's analysis of society. There are so many layers to this novel, that I wish I had taken more notes, but I was too swept up in the narrative to catalog all the depth that The Scarlet Letter provides. Definitely worth more than one read!more
I honestly feel cheated that I was never required to read this novel in either high school or college. While I found the first chapter about how the author came upon the story of Hester Prynne while working at the custom's house terribly dull, I absolutely loved the novel that followed. The Scarlet Letter is a beautiful pairing of contrasts. While Hester is marked as an adulterer--a sinner, she gives freely of her time and talents to her community. While she is forced to wear the drab attire of the Puritans, her A for adulterer is beautifully crafted. While she is well known for her sin, she seems to hold the sins of others in a secret place in her heart. While she married for stability, she feel victim to her passions. All of these elements work to make a beautifully complex character the reader cannot help but empathize with. One of the themes of the novel I most identified with is the hypocrisy of the townspeople. While many of them have committed a similar sin they are happy to point their fingers at Hester and judge her. The only exception to this rule is the young woman who waits with others outside the jailhouse door as Hester appears before the public. She symbolizes the minority thought in the beginning and in the end of the novel. Her willingness to look at the world from a different perspective provides a window into Hawthorne's analysis of society. There are so many layers to this novel, that I wish I had taken more notes, but I was too swept up in the narrative to catalog all the depth that The Scarlet Letter provides. Definitely worth more than one read!more
Ugh, this was really tough to get through, even in audiobook form. The only reason that I finished it is because it was one of those "classics" that I thought I should read. I wish that I wasn't regularly disappointed with these classic books/books on the 1001 books to read before you die list.

I know that Hawthorne was trying to talk about guilt and sin but man, could it be a little more interesting? Please?more
Required reading for high school American lit. I hated it at the time, but I want to give it another go.more
Why should we read the Classics? One reason is for the history not only of the time and place; but for the ideas that have found expression through the writer. Roughly 4500 years ago, some scribe marked up The Epic of Gilgamesh into clay tablets. We have an intriguing glimpse into the time and place and some action points to string a story together; but we don't have a sense of what the characters were really thinking or what sensibility guided their thought processes. What was it like to live in a world where you perceived time as circular and cyclical, not linearly? How did the concepts of civilization, a major shift from the nomadic and animistic lifestyle change their worldview? How did the oral tradition and sense of history transmute their own sense of culture? Unfortunately, it is unlikely that we will ever know because the story contains no explanation. It is no more than a historic artifact celebrated for being the oldest written story. The Classics, however, tell us more. The Classics provide a sense of "interior history," ideas that had currency when they were written and still inform our culture today.

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 just re-read this at age 64. The previous time was for American Lit class in high school. This was a totally different experience and a good one. I know I didn't appreciate the high school experience and I doubt that I entered into the characters much then. I struggled then with having to account for my reading. I should have had the dictionary by my side now too, but needed to keep reading and did quite well with context clues, I think.more
I just re-read this at age 64. The previous time was for American Lit class in high school. This was a totally different experience and a good one. I know I didn't appreciate the high school experience and I doubt that I entered into the characters much then. I struggled then with having to account for my reading. I should have had the dictionary by my side now too, but needed to keep reading and did quite well with context clues, I think.more
I just re-read this book for school and I'm re-rating it. I think I was too young to appreciate it when I read it the first time. The three-star rating is changing to five stars because The Scarlet Letter is pretty amazing.

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
Read it as a class requirement, I like the imagery, but that is about it, not really crazy about the story, sorry. I feel like this being one of the great classics I should be doing backflips for it, but the truth is that the story just wasn't for me.more
One-sentence summary: In Puritan Boston, Hester Prynne has conceived a daughter through an affair and been marked with a scarlet A for "adultery," but she will not reveal the identity of her lover and the child's father.My rating: 4 starsWhen read: I read this in college.Why read: It was an assignment.Impressions: I read this long, long ago, but I remember that it was much more readable than I expected it to be, given Hawthorne's dense writing style, and also that the story was very compelling. Of course, secret affairs, illegitimate children and revenge are the topics of both soap operas and great literature because they usually make for compelling stories. I don't know if I'll reread this, as this period of literature is not my favorite, but I would recommend it as an important part of the canon of American literature.Current status: I have a copy of the Penguin Classics edition of this book in my library. I am not eager to reread it, but it is a possibility.more
I don't see why Chillingworth is presented as a "villain." He does nothing heinous that I've seen. He's merely getting revenge on his wife for being a cheating whore (I have zero sympathy for adulterers) and her lover. If she had shown any repentance or turned aside from her lover when he returned, I might be able to see him in a more negative light. However, she continued to protect his identity throughout the story and even goes back to him in the end. I enjoyed the story, but would have much preferred is Hester was not the focus and Chillingworth's quest for revenge (justice) had been.more
Hester Prynne commits adultery in the Puritan town of Salem, where the community punishes her with wearing a letter "A" and with ostracism.Hawthorne's classic is, of course, one of those books that doesn't really need a summary, as most American high school students have to read it sometime in their academic careers. Its archaic language and long-winded intrusive narrator make it difficult to read for fun and pleasure. Its themes of guilt, punishment, ostracism, and false piety make it rich when a good teacher can tease out the narrative. When I reread The Scarlet Letter alongside a high school student, I found myself ready to highlight passages and delve back into the investigative, analytical mode of an English major. While not one of the classics I would return to again and again for just the sheer pleasure of the story, I can see why it's become a staple of the classroom, even as I pity the poor high school students that have to struggle through it.more
I put my hands on the beating hearts of Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne, they came close to escaping their time. Characters trump plot, but here the story line is viciously inescapable.more
I put my hands on the beating hearts of Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne, they came close to escaping their time. Characters trump plot, but here the story line is viciously inescapable.more
Despite its age, the Scarlet Letter is an excellent exploration of morality, religion and hypocrisy in a setting that's obsessed with morals. If you're not the kind of person who likes the sometimes over-written style of 19th century novels, you'll probably lose Hawthorne's message in the language but it's well worth the read and shows surprisingly modern thinking for such an old book.more
I finally read this classic, and despised everyone in it. I did read it to the end, but am not impressed enough to read anything else by this author!more
As is often the case with novels from this period, Hawthorne prattles on a bit too much for my more modern tastes. A good tale, but each chapter takes too long to tell what it has to say. I prefer Dickens for period classics.more
I know it may seem hard to believe, but I did not read The Scarlet Letter before reading it as a book club selection last month. I think this may be one of the hardest books I have ever read, as I tried to understand the story with it's old world language. It seems that Hawthorne used all of his characters to symbolize various characteristics and sins.Hester is the strong-willed heroine of this story who makes a moral error in judgement. She is persecuted for he wrong-doing, but accepts the punishment from her peers. The punishment will stamp a wound on Hester's heart and taint her mind and soul for the rest of her days. Hester's conviction turned out to be a lifelong persecution, from the entire township. It was interesting to watch the attitudes of the townspeople, as sometimes they would treat her with respect and friendship, while other times treating her like a thief. She often found it easier to live in solitude to avoid accusing stares that she was sure to find.This book seemed to have a bit of flavor that reminded me of the Salem Witch Trials. I'm not sure if this book takes place before or after that period, but witchcraft is briefly mentioned in the story. With themes of symbolism, love, and truth, this book made an interesting book club discussion. With that being said I think I also need to tell you that out of our group of nine ladies, only three of us actually finished the book. It was definitely not one of our favorites and not one that I would recommend for leisure reading. I am, however, glad that I finally read this classic.more
A good book. Hawthorne knew how to get into people's minds and make them think about things. At some points you feel for Hester, and then at others you just cuss at her (to yourself and hopefully under your breath or you get weird looks in the library) for just being so stupid.A lot of people don't like this book, but I found it oddly interesting. Good, evil, heaven, hell, what's right and what's not is such a slippery slope and can engender so much meaningful dialogue.more
I re-read this novel, which has been called the first psychological novel, as part of the Masterpiece Book Club at my local library. The first time that I had read it was back in high school, and I disliked it. Being 15 and reading such a complex novel, it was any wonder why I didn’t like it.The character of Pearl transforms the most throughout the novel. She begins as a child of passion – with her wild ways (symbolized by the red rose bush outside the prison) into a child of love and morality at the end when her father dies after finally confessing his sin seven years later. Back in high school, I didn’t understand why Pearl was so naughty, but now I understand that she was the living embodiment of passion and wildness, that was so characteristic of her mother, Hester Prynne. Ultimately, Pearl becomes the moral compass of the novel – she points towards Truth. And Truth is a badge of acknowledgement of the realities of the human imperfections – especially in the Puritanical culture of shame.Now as an adult, the major themes speak volumes, as the author had originally intended. Not only is the archaic vocabulary easier to comprehend, but the overall themes of Morality and the importance of Truth reverberate throughout the ages—making The Scarlet Letter one of those timeless novels.more
I re-read this novel, which has been called the first psychological novel, as part of the Masterpiece Book Club at my local library. The first time that I had read it was back in high school, and I disliked it. Being 15 and reading such a complex novel, it was any wonder why I didn’t like it.The character of Pearl transforms the most throughout the novel. She begins as a child of passion – with her wild ways (symbolized by the red rose bush outside the prison) into a child of love and morality at the end when her father dies after finally confessing his sin seven years later. Back in high school, I didn’t understand why Pearl was so naughty, but now I understand that she was the living embodiment of passion and wildness, that was so characteristic of her mother, Hester Prynne. Ultimately, Pearl becomes the moral compass of the novel – she points towards Truth. And Truth is a badge of acknowledgement of the realities of the human imperfections – especially in the Puritanical culture of shame.Now as an adult, the major themes speak volumes, as the author had originally intended. Not only is the archaic vocabulary easier to comprehend, but the overall themes of Morality and the importance of Truth reverberate throughout the ages—making The Scarlet Letter one of those timeless novels.more
The bane of many a high school English class, Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter offers much to the reader who delves into its miasma of guilt, redemption, hypocrisy and zealotry. The plot is famous enough to be simply summarized as unmarried Hester Prynne gives birth to a child, refuses to name the father and is sentenced to wear a scarlet 'A' on her bosom, thus enabling the people of Puritan colonial Boston to ridicule and ostracize her. Hester's husband, long feared lost at sea, returns under the guise of a doctor with the name of Roger Chillingworth. He forgives Hester her adultery but is determined to find out the identity of the father. The father turns out to be the new, young minister, Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale, who between giving eloquent sermons on the nature of sin and redemption, battles the demons of his guilt and his inability to confess publicly to his sin, as was expected of all Puritans at the time.The internal battle between Dimmesdale's conscience and his ego, the descent from medical provider to almost demonic rapscallion of Chillingworth and the steely determination of Hester to raise her daughter in the face of trememdous indifference and outright hostility from the citizenry all combine to produce a story epic in scope, if not in size. The torturous indecisiveness depicted within Dimmesdale can be compared favorably with that experienced by Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment.The book would benefit greatly in its reading if a more mature audience were introduced to it than the average teenager. Most teenagers are unable to consider the consequences of their actions, let alone deal with the turbulent concept of guilt and its burden upon the soul. Through no fault of Hawthorne's do most readers come to loathe the novel. Quite the contrary, the book is exemplary in its treatment of its themes, rarely having been matched. The reader should approach the book with an understanding that secrets, and the keeping of them, have a cost that is often impossible to pay.more
I can't say I liked it, but it was an interesting study on sin and guilt and how they work on the psyche. Props where they are due and Nathaniel Hawthorne gets one for that.more
I can't say I liked it, but it was an interesting study on sin and guilt and how they work on the psyche. Props where they are due and Nathaniel Hawthorne gets one for that.more
In this classic tale of adultery, Hawthorne presents sympathetic characters and a story that rings true today. The language, as in most classic novels, can sometimes be hard to understand, but the story should resonate with modern audiences nonetheless.more
In this classic tale of adultery, Hawthorne presents sympathetic characters and a story that rings true today. The language, as in most classic novels, can sometimes be hard to understand, but the story should resonate with modern audiences nonetheless.more
Setting: The theme of sin and hypocrisy is set in a small New England town during the Puritan Era.Plot: Hester Prynne sets out to make reparation for her sin while the town seeks the father of her baby.Characters: Hester Prynne (protagonist)- scarlet letter, not sorry; Rev. Dimmesdale- hides guilt, dies of it; Roger Chillingsworth (antagonist) Hester's husband, persecutes the Rev.; Pearl- Hester's daughter, not real without familySymbols: the scarlet letter, the rose, the forestCharacteristics: example of Romanticism, first novel to have woman protagonistMy Thoughts: I enjoyed reading it through, I disagree with Hester's lack of contrition.more
One of the easier to read classics that I've encountered thus far. I enjoyed the imagery and the symbolism in the book, but the slow parts were a struggle to get through.more
One of the easier to read classics that I've encountered thus far. I enjoyed the imagery and the symbolism in the book, but the slow parts were a struggle to get through.more
Read all 140 reviews

Reviews

a really awesome book to read not only gave me knowledge but also caught a lot of my attention!?more
I honestly feel cheated that I was never required to read this novel in either high school or college. While I found the first chapter about how the author came upon the story of Hester Prynne while working at the custom's house terribly dull, I absolutely loved the novel that followed. The Scarlet Letter is a beautiful pairing of contrasts. While Hester is marked as an adulterer--a sinner, she gives freely of her time and talents to her community. While she is forced to wear the drab attire of the Puritans, her A for adulterer is beautifully crafted. While she is well known for her sin, she seems to hold the sins of others in a secret place in her heart. While she married for stability, she feel victim to her passions. All of these elements work to make a beautifully complex character the reader cannot help but empathize with. One of the themes of the novel I most identified with is the hypocrisy of the townspeople. While many of them have committed a similar sin they are happy to point their fingers at Hester and judge her. The only exception to this rule is the young woman who waits with others outside the jailhouse door as Hester appears before the public. She symbolizes the minority thought in the beginning and in the end of the novel. Her willingness to look at the world from a different perspective provides a window into Hawthorne's analysis of society. There are so many layers to this novel, that I wish I had taken more notes, but I was too swept up in the narrative to catalog all the depth that The Scarlet Letter provides. Definitely worth more than one read!more
I honestly feel cheated that I was never required to read this novel in either high school or college. While I found the first chapter about how the author came upon the story of Hester Prynne while working at the custom's house terribly dull, I absolutely loved the novel that followed. The Scarlet Letter is a beautiful pairing of contrasts. While Hester is marked as an adulterer--a sinner, she gives freely of her time and talents to her community. While she is forced to wear the drab attire of the Puritans, her A for adulterer is beautifully crafted. While she is well known for her sin, she seems to hold the sins of others in a secret place in her heart. While she married for stability, she feel victim to her passions. All of these elements work to make a beautifully complex character the reader cannot help but empathize with. One of the themes of the novel I most identified with is the hypocrisy of the townspeople. While many of them have committed a similar sin they are happy to point their fingers at Hester and judge her. The only exception to this rule is the young woman who waits with others outside the jailhouse door as Hester appears before the public. She symbolizes the minority thought in the beginning and in the end of the novel. Her willingness to look at the world from a different perspective provides a window into Hawthorne's analysis of society. There are so many layers to this novel, that I wish I had taken more notes, but I was too swept up in the narrative to catalog all the depth that The Scarlet Letter provides. Definitely worth more than one read!more
Ugh, this was really tough to get through, even in audiobook form. The only reason that I finished it is because it was one of those "classics" that I thought I should read. I wish that I wasn't regularly disappointed with these classic books/books on the 1001 books to read before you die list.

I know that Hawthorne was trying to talk about guilt and sin but man, could it be a little more interesting? Please?more
Required reading for high school American lit. I hated it at the time, but I want to give it another go.more
Why should we read the Classics? One reason is for the history not only of the time and place; but for the ideas that have found expression through the writer. Roughly 4500 years ago, some scribe marked up The Epic of Gilgamesh into clay tablets. We have an intriguing glimpse into the time and place and some action points to string a story together; but we don't have a sense of what the characters were really thinking or what sensibility guided their thought processes. What was it like to live in a world where you perceived time as circular and cyclical, not linearly? How did the concepts of civilization, a major shift from the nomadic and animistic lifestyle change their worldview? How did the oral tradition and sense of history transmute their own sense of culture? Unfortunately, it is unlikely that we will ever know because the story contains no explanation. It is no more than a historic artifact celebrated for being the oldest written story. The Classics, however, tell us more. The Classics provide a sense of "interior history," ideas that had currency when they were written and still inform our culture today.

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 just re-read this at age 64. The previous time was for American Lit class in high school. This was a totally different experience and a good one. I know I didn't appreciate the high school experience and I doubt that I entered into the characters much then. I struggled then with having to account for my reading. I should have had the dictionary by my side now too, but needed to keep reading and did quite well with context clues, I think.more
I just re-read this at age 64. The previous time was for American Lit class in high school. This was a totally different experience and a good one. I know I didn't appreciate the high school experience and I doubt that I entered into the characters much then. I struggled then with having to account for my reading. I should have had the dictionary by my side now too, but needed to keep reading and did quite well with context clues, I think.more
I just re-read this book for school and I'm re-rating it. I think I was too young to appreciate it when I read it the first time. The three-star rating is changing to five stars because The Scarlet Letter is pretty amazing.

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
Read it as a class requirement, I like the imagery, but that is about it, not really crazy about the story, sorry. I feel like this being one of the great classics I should be doing backflips for it, but the truth is that the story just wasn't for me.more
One-sentence summary: In Puritan Boston, Hester Prynne has conceived a daughter through an affair and been marked with a scarlet A for "adultery," but she will not reveal the identity of her lover and the child's father.My rating: 4 starsWhen read: I read this in college.Why read: It was an assignment.Impressions: I read this long, long ago, but I remember that it was much more readable than I expected it to be, given Hawthorne's dense writing style, and also that the story was very compelling. Of course, secret affairs, illegitimate children and revenge are the topics of both soap operas and great literature because they usually make for compelling stories. I don't know if I'll reread this, as this period of literature is not my favorite, but I would recommend it as an important part of the canon of American literature.Current status: I have a copy of the Penguin Classics edition of this book in my library. I am not eager to reread it, but it is a possibility.more
I don't see why Chillingworth is presented as a "villain." He does nothing heinous that I've seen. He's merely getting revenge on his wife for being a cheating whore (I have zero sympathy for adulterers) and her lover. If she had shown any repentance or turned aside from her lover when he returned, I might be able to see him in a more negative light. However, she continued to protect his identity throughout the story and even goes back to him in the end. I enjoyed the story, but would have much preferred is Hester was not the focus and Chillingworth's quest for revenge (justice) had been.more
Hester Prynne commits adultery in the Puritan town of Salem, where the community punishes her with wearing a letter "A" and with ostracism.Hawthorne's classic is, of course, one of those books that doesn't really need a summary, as most American high school students have to read it sometime in their academic careers. Its archaic language and long-winded intrusive narrator make it difficult to read for fun and pleasure. Its themes of guilt, punishment, ostracism, and false piety make it rich when a good teacher can tease out the narrative. When I reread The Scarlet Letter alongside a high school student, I found myself ready to highlight passages and delve back into the investigative, analytical mode of an English major. While not one of the classics I would return to again and again for just the sheer pleasure of the story, I can see why it's become a staple of the classroom, even as I pity the poor high school students that have to struggle through it.more
I put my hands on the beating hearts of Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne, they came close to escaping their time. Characters trump plot, but here the story line is viciously inescapable.more
I put my hands on the beating hearts of Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne, they came close to escaping their time. Characters trump plot, but here the story line is viciously inescapable.more
Despite its age, the Scarlet Letter is an excellent exploration of morality, religion and hypocrisy in a setting that's obsessed with morals. If you're not the kind of person who likes the sometimes over-written style of 19th century novels, you'll probably lose Hawthorne's message in the language but it's well worth the read and shows surprisingly modern thinking for such an old book.more
I finally read this classic, and despised everyone in it. I did read it to the end, but am not impressed enough to read anything else by this author!more
As is often the case with novels from this period, Hawthorne prattles on a bit too much for my more modern tastes. A good tale, but each chapter takes too long to tell what it has to say. I prefer Dickens for period classics.more
I know it may seem hard to believe, but I did not read The Scarlet Letter before reading it as a book club selection last month. I think this may be one of the hardest books I have ever read, as I tried to understand the story with it's old world language. It seems that Hawthorne used all of his characters to symbolize various characteristics and sins.Hester is the strong-willed heroine of this story who makes a moral error in judgement. She is persecuted for he wrong-doing, but accepts the punishment from her peers. The punishment will stamp a wound on Hester's heart and taint her mind and soul for the rest of her days. Hester's conviction turned out to be a lifelong persecution, from the entire township. It was interesting to watch the attitudes of the townspeople, as sometimes they would treat her with respect and friendship, while other times treating her like a thief. She often found it easier to live in solitude to avoid accusing stares that she was sure to find.This book seemed to have a bit of flavor that reminded me of the Salem Witch Trials. I'm not sure if this book takes place before or after that period, but witchcraft is briefly mentioned in the story. With themes of symbolism, love, and truth, this book made an interesting book club discussion. With that being said I think I also need to tell you that out of our group of nine ladies, only three of us actually finished the book. It was definitely not one of our favorites and not one that I would recommend for leisure reading. I am, however, glad that I finally read this classic.more
A good book. Hawthorne knew how to get into people's minds and make them think about things. At some points you feel for Hester, and then at others you just cuss at her (to yourself and hopefully under your breath or you get weird looks in the library) for just being so stupid.A lot of people don't like this book, but I found it oddly interesting. Good, evil, heaven, hell, what's right and what's not is such a slippery slope and can engender so much meaningful dialogue.more
I re-read this novel, which has been called the first psychological novel, as part of the Masterpiece Book Club at my local library. The first time that I had read it was back in high school, and I disliked it. Being 15 and reading such a complex novel, it was any wonder why I didn’t like it.The character of Pearl transforms the most throughout the novel. She begins as a child of passion – with her wild ways (symbolized by the red rose bush outside the prison) into a child of love and morality at the end when her father dies after finally confessing his sin seven years later. Back in high school, I didn’t understand why Pearl was so naughty, but now I understand that she was the living embodiment of passion and wildness, that was so characteristic of her mother, Hester Prynne. Ultimately, Pearl becomes the moral compass of the novel – she points towards Truth. And Truth is a badge of acknowledgement of the realities of the human imperfections – especially in the Puritanical culture of shame.Now as an adult, the major themes speak volumes, as the author had originally intended. Not only is the archaic vocabulary easier to comprehend, but the overall themes of Morality and the importance of Truth reverberate throughout the ages—making The Scarlet Letter one of those timeless novels.more
I re-read this novel, which has been called the first psychological novel, as part of the Masterpiece Book Club at my local library. The first time that I had read it was back in high school, and I disliked it. Being 15 and reading such a complex novel, it was any wonder why I didn’t like it.The character of Pearl transforms the most throughout the novel. She begins as a child of passion – with her wild ways (symbolized by the red rose bush outside the prison) into a child of love and morality at the end when her father dies after finally confessing his sin seven years later. Back in high school, I didn’t understand why Pearl was so naughty, but now I understand that she was the living embodiment of passion and wildness, that was so characteristic of her mother, Hester Prynne. Ultimately, Pearl becomes the moral compass of the novel – she points towards Truth. And Truth is a badge of acknowledgement of the realities of the human imperfections – especially in the Puritanical culture of shame.Now as an adult, the major themes speak volumes, as the author had originally intended. Not only is the archaic vocabulary easier to comprehend, but the overall themes of Morality and the importance of Truth reverberate throughout the ages—making The Scarlet Letter one of those timeless novels.more
The bane of many a high school English class, Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter offers much to the reader who delves into its miasma of guilt, redemption, hypocrisy and zealotry. The plot is famous enough to be simply summarized as unmarried Hester Prynne gives birth to a child, refuses to name the father and is sentenced to wear a scarlet 'A' on her bosom, thus enabling the people of Puritan colonial Boston to ridicule and ostracize her. Hester's husband, long feared lost at sea, returns under the guise of a doctor with the name of Roger Chillingworth. He forgives Hester her adultery but is determined to find out the identity of the father. The father turns out to be the new, young minister, Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale, who between giving eloquent sermons on the nature of sin and redemption, battles the demons of his guilt and his inability to confess publicly to his sin, as was expected of all Puritans at the time.The internal battle between Dimmesdale's conscience and his ego, the descent from medical provider to almost demonic rapscallion of Chillingworth and the steely determination of Hester to raise her daughter in the face of trememdous indifference and outright hostility from the citizenry all combine to produce a story epic in scope, if not in size. The torturous indecisiveness depicted within Dimmesdale can be compared favorably with that experienced by Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment.The book would benefit greatly in its reading if a more mature audience were introduced to it than the average teenager. Most teenagers are unable to consider the consequences of their actions, let alone deal with the turbulent concept of guilt and its burden upon the soul. Through no fault of Hawthorne's do most readers come to loathe the novel. Quite the contrary, the book is exemplary in its treatment of its themes, rarely having been matched. The reader should approach the book with an understanding that secrets, and the keeping of them, have a cost that is often impossible to pay.more
I can't say I liked it, but it was an interesting study on sin and guilt and how they work on the psyche. Props where they are due and Nathaniel Hawthorne gets one for that.more
I can't say I liked it, but it was an interesting study on sin and guilt and how they work on the psyche. Props where they are due and Nathaniel Hawthorne gets one for that.more
In this classic tale of adultery, Hawthorne presents sympathetic characters and a story that rings true today. The language, as in most classic novels, can sometimes be hard to understand, but the story should resonate with modern audiences nonetheless.more
In this classic tale of adultery, Hawthorne presents sympathetic characters and a story that rings true today. The language, as in most classic novels, can sometimes be hard to understand, but the story should resonate with modern audiences nonetheless.more
Setting: The theme of sin and hypocrisy is set in a small New England town during the Puritan Era.Plot: Hester Prynne sets out to make reparation for her sin while the town seeks the father of her baby.Characters: Hester Prynne (protagonist)- scarlet letter, not sorry; Rev. Dimmesdale- hides guilt, dies of it; Roger Chillingsworth (antagonist) Hester's husband, persecutes the Rev.; Pearl- Hester's daughter, not real without familySymbols: the scarlet letter, the rose, the forestCharacteristics: example of Romanticism, first novel to have woman protagonistMy Thoughts: I enjoyed reading it through, I disagree with Hester's lack of contrition.more
One of the easier to read classics that I've encountered thus far. I enjoyed the imagery and the symbolism in the book, but the slow parts were a struggle to get through.more
One of the easier to read classics that I've encountered thus far. I enjoyed the imagery and the symbolism in the book, but the slow parts were a struggle to get through.more
Load more
scribd