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The Scarlet Letter (Dover Thrift Study Edition) Paperback – August 3, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9-Up Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel of Puritanism giving rise to twisted gender politics, hypocrisy, and strength of character in the face of public scorn is well realized in this reading by Annie Wauters. She gives individual tone and rhythm to each of the main characters, while keeping the passages of narrative relatively uninflected. While this suits the author's own sometimes dry writing, it means that listeners must get to the second hour before the story truly gets underway. Since this lengthy forepart fits almost entirely onto the first disk, and each chapter is clearly marked as to track number on the packaging, it is possible to simply skip ahead rather than give up what becomes a delightfully lively listening experience once the romance gets going. Because the reading adheres so entirely to the print in spirit as well as in word, this is an excellent choice for students who cannot access print or who would like to accomplish college prep reading while undertaking other activities. Sturdy packaging makes this a shelf ready purchase.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"[Nathaniel Hawthorne] recaptured, for his New England, the essence of Greek tragedy." --Malcolm Cowley --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Thrift Study Edition edition (August 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486475697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486475691
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,878 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #453,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Alesha N. Gates on May 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
There are so many things I could say about this book, but should I reach the heights of elegance achieved only by Shakespeare, Hawthorne himself, or Faulkner, I could not overcome the horrible, terrible misconceptions most people have formed after having this beautiful novel foisted upon them in high school. Instead, I'll share a few observations and some tips for reading.

First, this is a complicated story. It's not about evil Puritans and hero Hester, although you will read this point of view in the cheat note summaries on the internet. It's not about feminism, really, nor is it about religion in any technical sense. The only comparison that really fits is that of love story, or love triangle, or maybe love square. (I told you it is complicated.) In all of literature, there are very few writers who have penned characters so incredibly real and well-rounded. When you finish the novel, you KNOW these people. Certainly there is some minor societal commentary, but the real story here is about these people.

Now, I'm assuming that many people looking at this page have been told they must read this book for high school English. As a former teacher of said subject, I have some pointers.

(1) Make sure you read the book for yourself. Chances are (in our current educational system) your teacher is going to have a flat interpretation of this book, likely gleaned from some ready-made teaching packet. (If you have another kind of teacher, consider yourself lucky.) You can have some very interesting class discussions if you actually read the material and challenge some of the majority opinions about the novel. Be a rebel. Have some fun in English.

(2) Read *The Custom House* introduction, but wait until after you've finished the book.
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162 of 190 people found the following review helpful By Srinivas Chetty on November 5, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have long wanted to read this book by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It was one of the first books I downloaded when I got my kindle 2. The character portrayals are superb. It analyses the thoughts, motivations, strengths and weaknesses of the four major characters in the story - Hester Prynn, the vengeful doctor, the hapless minister and Hester's vivacious and elf-like daughter Pearl. The description of the little girl and how she copes with being ostracized with her mother by a rigid puritanical society, is especially moving. While there are some descriptions of nature that are quite vivid, most of the text goes into developing these four characters and is a fascinating psychological study, though at times it's little slow.

Overall, a well-crafted story and a good read.

The book though is hard to navigate on the kindle because it has no active table of contents. I therefore would not purchase this version at regular price. Luckily, it's free!
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211 of 254 people found the following review helpful By D. Bass on September 6, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like many reviewers here, I was "forced" to read this book for my English Composition class. However, unlike many reviewers here, I have a much different view of the story. As some people have said before, Hawthorne's book takes a good deal of concentration, effort, and strength to understand. Not only to understand, but to finish. The story can drag sometimes, it is true, and Hawthorne's style of writing occasionally leaves something to be desired (I don't think I've ever seen that many commas, 15 letter words, or page long paragraphs before), but we simply must look past these minor issues. Overall, the plot is highly creative and intense, despite the writing.\
Ok, ok, I agree that the first chapter, "The Custom-House", was pretty bad. In fact, it was so bad and boring that I drifted off to sleep several times while reading it! The first chapter has little relevancy with the story, so, unless you have to, I would suggest skipping that part of the text. The rest is exceptionally good, and the quality of the plot cannot be overlooked. My advice is to just lay off the first chapter; that way you'll be able to enjoy the rest of the book without difficulty.
The story itself deals with sin and adultery, a subject that isn't very popular right now. Hawthorne does an excellent job of telling us about this, but he leaves the reader with many questions floating around in his mind at the conclusion. At the end of the story you're not 100% sure if Hawthorne was condemning the Puritan society, or if he was commending it. He leaves that for the reader to figure out, which is a thing authors seldom do. That's a major reason I believe this work is so unique and timeless.
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113 of 139 people found the following review helpful By C. Chetty on December 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, takes place in the 1600s in Boston, which was a Puritan community at that time. The Puritans had extremely strict moral codes, and adultery, a subject matter in this novel, was deemed by the Puritans in the same way that felonies today are regarded. The novel's plot is directed by the Puritans' reactions to such behavior.

Nearly all classic novels get praised for character "development." However, the Scarlet Letter is the only novel I have read so far that, in my opinion, truly demonstrates development of characters. All other novels I have read have "exploration" of characters, but not actual development. Development of characters involves portraying the changes in a person's personality as a result of conflict.

In my opinion, the most impressive aspect of the Scarlet Letter is the ingenious connection between the novel's message and character development. In the Scarlet Letter, a single incident of adultery has unforeseen consequences that affect four people. How each character responds to the situation determines his or her physical and mental outcome in the story. The core message of the novel is that hiding one's sins causes more anguish than revealing one's sins.

The character development is superb, but the novel does not seem to use the developed characters to influence the plot. The subject of adultery was a creative element to develop characters, but I wish that the author had introduced a different conflict toward the end of the novel to show how the 3D characters would have reacted to the change in subject matter.
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