Tuesday, April 17

Book Review: The Scarlet Letter

Author:  Nathaniel Hawthorne
Title: The Scarlet Letter
Genre: Drama, Historical Fiction, Classical, Gothic Romance 
Pages: e-book

First Published: 1850
Where I Got It: From Amazon.com (for free *shushs and looks around*) 

"Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter reaches to our nation's historical and moral roots for the material of great tragedy. Set in an early New England colony, the novel shows the terrible impact a single, passionate act has on the lives of three members of the community: the defiant Hester Prynne; the fiery, tortured Reverend Dimmesdale; and the obsessed, vengeful Chillingworth.

With The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne became the first American novelist to forge from our Puritan heritage a universal classic, a masterful exploration of humanity's unending struggle with sin, guilt and pride."

I had two reasons why I read this: 1) I've been interested in reading this book for a LONG time and it was finally time to do it and 2) I had to read this for my American Literature class. I'm so glad I had the #2 reason arise to finally give me motivation for reading this. Now, I'm kicking myself for avoiding this tale for so long...

I will say it here and now before I continue: SKIP THE INTRODUCTION! Your eyes will bleed and you will want to find the nearest cliff! It is the longest and most DRY piece of writing I've read in a long time. I really like Mr. Hawthorne, but if I saw him walking past me I would trip him in revenge. 

Alright, I got that out of my system. Once I was done with reading the introduction the rest of the book held my undivided attention and I could barely put it down! Yes, at times it was a little hard to read, just because it is in old English. No matter how much you read in old English it still slows you up a little bit. At times I would have to shut to turn off my Kindle and contemplate the events that just occurred.

I loved Nathaniel Hawthorne's view on humanity. There are many shades of grey and this story is a great symbolism of this fact. Some people do "evil" things, but are they really "evil"? If they seem to be "good", are they really "good"? Yes, Hester had slept with a man and had his baby, while she was married, however does that make her damned and an "evil" person as the people believed? Chillingworth is a doctor and considered a wise man and a scholar, but revenge and hatred is his core meaning in life. Everyone in town claims to be better than Hester and good people, but they shun her and curse her. They claim to be good, christen people, but are they really?

Hester and Pearl were the only characters I actually liked in the entire book. Everyone else is selfish and hypocritical! They all shun Hester and force her to wear that letter upon her dress, but does she hate them? Does she out her fellow sinner and ex-lover? No, she takes the "crime" upon herself and doesn't want to ruin her ex-lovers high esteem amongst the people. Whilst her ex-lover is selfish and remains hidden. Every character, besides for Hester and her child, are horrible people in my opinion. Yes, Hester made a mistake, but she is still a good person. However, Hester isn't innocent of selfishness, she remains in town to let her child grow into a world of hatred and being an outsider. If I had been Hester I would have taken Pearl and ran. Maybe to the Native or back to England or to another settlement. I don't know, but Hester didn't want to be bothered. I don't know.

I could go on and on about this book. I can't wait to discuss this book in my class on Wednesday. ^.^ I really liked this book and I think that any avid reader should read this someday. It certainly is a classic and one of my favorites now.  However, I must eliminate a star because of the introduction...so this book will be getting 4 stars. 

Favorite Character(s): Hester and Pearl
Not-so Favorite Character(s): Everyone else in town 



Anachronist said...

I quite agree with you - all these Puritans show that they know nothing about real Christian virtues. Hester is an adulteress but she is also far more loyal and forgiving than them.

Blodeuedd said...

Did she not think what her kid would have to deal with? Yup she should have run. What a bunch idiots in that town. But those were the days

Joanne said...

So great that you love this book -- waaay back when I was in high school, my wonderful lit teacher told us to skip the intro! Therefore, it was a terrific story from start to finish for me.

Unknown said...

I read this book in high school for my Ap English Class.
Now I kinda wanna read it again.
Good review Carole.

Carole Rae said...

Anachronist, yeah I find Puritans and their beliefs to be very hypocritical and it contradicts itself. That's why I liked Hester...she may have been an adulteress, but she was a pretty good person by my standards.

B, I actually stopped reading and vented out loud at how cruel she was to stay! I would've ran to allow my child a good environment to live. They are idiots, but yes...without those idiots the US wouldn't be here today

Joanne, it is a great story I do agree.

Allison, you should and thanks!

carol said...

I have honestly never felt the urge to read this one. I picture myself getting angry at all the townsfolk.

Carole Rae said...

Carol, yeaaa I was pretty mad and frustrated at their arrogance. It was good though overall. :)