Set in the harsh Puritan community of seventeenth-century Boston, this tale of an adulterous entanglement that results in an illegitimate birth reveals Nathaniel Hawthorne's concerns with the tension between the public and the private selves. Publicly disgraced and ostracized, Hester Prynne draws on her inner strength and certainty of spirit to emerge as the first true heroine of American fiction. Arthur Dimmesdale stands as a classic study of a seld divided; trapped by the rules of society, he suppresses his passion and ...
Set in the harsh Puritan community of seventeenth-century Boston, this tale of an adulterous entanglement that results in an illegitimate birth reveals Nathaniel Hawthorne's concerns with the tension between the public and the private selves. Publicly disgraced and ostracized, Hester Prynne draws on her inner strength and certainty of spirit to emerge as the first true heroine of American fiction. Arthur Dimmesdale stands as a classic study of a seld divided; trapped by the rules of society, he suppresses his passion and disavows his lover, Hester, and their daughter, Pearl. As Nina Baym writes in her Introduction, "The Scarlet Letter" was not written as realistic, historical fiction, but as a 'romance', a creation of the imagination that discloses the truth of the human heart.
The novel begins with the narrator, a Custom House official, who happens to find a scarlet letter "A" in a box he finds one day in the office. The narrator then relates the story of Hester Prynne, the original bearer of the scarlet letter, who lived in Boston when it was just a small Puritan settlement in the seventeenth century.
Hester's story begins on a scaffold just outside the town prison. She has committed adultery, given birth to a child out of wedlock, and refuses to name the man with whom she had the affair. The village leaders hope to shame her into naming her lover by making her into a public spectacle. Even under intense pressure, Hester refuses to reveal her secret. She alone must bear the shame and isolation resulting from her actions. As a punishment, Hester is made to wear a scarlet letter "A" on her chest at all times. The letter "A" stands for adultery and causes her and her daughter to be scorned by the members of her community.
Jun 22, 2015
Sin and Punishment in Puritan Boston
Written in 1850 and set in Puritan Boston in the 1600s, The Scarlet Letter tells the story of Hester Prynne and her punishment for committing adultery. The novel develops the themes of sin, punishment, isolation, and redemption. The letter A worn by Hester Prynne means adultery but could also mean able or afflicted depending on how one interprets the book. I liked this story very much but I found the writing style a bit ponderous at times. Still, this is a good historical novel dealing with sin and suffering in a historical context.
Dec 3, 2009
Women's Rights in Puritan Times
I am not done with the book - I am about half-way through. But I am enjoying this book even though the book is a realistic view of women's rights set during the 1600's America. It is not easy reading but the book has given me topics to review and contemplate.
Nov 19, 2009
Red Letter Book
I found ?The Scarlet Letter? to be first rate. Well written and descriptive of the period. I?m sorry that it took me so many years to get around to reading it. Most people read it in high school.
Nov 18, 2008
This is a great classic book. I really enjoyed it when we had to read as a class in highschool my first year. It's great for class discussions.
Alibris, the Alibris logo, and Alibris.com are registered trademarks of Alibris, Inc.
Copyright in bibliographic data and cover images is held by Nielsen Book Services Limited, Baker & Taylor, Inc., or by their respective licensors, or by the publishers, or by their respective licensors. For personal use only. All rights reserved. All rights in images of books or other publications are reserved by the original copyright holders.