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154 of 179 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, but hard to navigate ebook
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...
Published on November 5, 2009 by Srinivas Chetty

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103 of 128 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and Creative
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...
Published on December 14, 2008 by C. Chetty


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154 of 179 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, but hard to navigate ebook, November 5, 2009
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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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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is not the book you hated in high school . . ., May 22, 2006
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. It's only good in that it explains Hawthorne's view of his own book (difficult and painful) and reveals his struggle to write it. The writing style, however, is decidedly un-Hawthorne and more difficult to read than the rest of the book. If you read it first, you will be unfairly biased against the novel.

(3)Read it SLOWLY, if at all possible. The storyline is complex and should be read with care. I would also recommend underlining and taking notes, if your copy of the book allows it. You will develop a truly deep appreciation of the work.

(4) Finally, avoid the Demi Moore 1995 adaptation AT ALL COSTS. Words cannot describe how awful it is. And if your hope is to find something to help you on the test, the only real similarities are the character's names and the red patch on Hester's dress. If you must see a film version, find the PBS miniseries with John Heard and Meg Foster (made in the 1970s). It does the best job that a film possibly could with this material.
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198 of 240 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Scarlet Letter", September 6, 2000
By 
D. Bass (North Carolina) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
The story involves a women named Hester Prynne, living in the New World in the late 17th century. She has committed adultery with someone unknown, and, since the Puritan society considered the Bible to be their ultimate source of law, the punishment was quite severe for such an act. Hester is forced to wear a scarlet "A" (for adultery) on her attire at all times, as a sign to everyone that she has sinned deeply. And so she must carry out the rest of her life this way. That's the major gist of the plot, although there's much more. I won't give it anyway, though, you'll have to read the book to find out.
Let's face it: at some time or another we all are going to probably have to read this book, voluntarily or involuntarily. Shouldn't we try to make the best of it? Read it for its enjoyment, anything else would be missing the point.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read, February 12, 2000
This review is from: The Scarlet Letter (Hardcover)
I enjoyed reading The Scarlet Letter. I was not forced into by a Literature teacher; I picked it up on my own because I heard it was a great American classic; and, indeed, I have to agree. It is truly timeless. It has been almost five years since I have read this book and I can remember the scenes and words so vividly. Hawthorne's dizzying imagery provides an adventure into the life of a Puritan woman, Hester Prynne, that one does not soon forget.
Hester, practically abandoned by her husband is left to take care of herself in a lonely new world. She is flesh and bone with desires and passions like any other human being. Hester commits adultery and is found out by a cruel, judging community. She must wear a Scarlet A on the front of her dress; A for Adultery. Hester refuses to give the name of her lover Dimmesdale so he goes free and untouched by the damning society, but must face the tortures of his own conscience.
Hester is humiliated and must suffer the consequences for her actions but she is not a broken woman. She stands, brave.
Dimmesdale comes through in the end and admits his role in the dangerous game. Hawthorne takes the readers on a spinning ride to get to this point. Read it and know the exact ending for yourself. I recommend it; highly.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Scarlet Letter, June 26, 2013
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Skip the author's letter in the beginning and jump right into the story! The letter is self-indulgent and it didn't add anything to the experience of reading the story. The Scarlet Letter is much easier to read than most classics so don't be put off by its classic status. Unlike most classics it is written in a no-frills manner which gives you a better chance to connect with the characters and to get to the crux of the story. I particularly enjoyed how well developed the characters were and how you could understand each of their motives, desires and problems. The book is an interesting mix of sex, religion and revenge. Although not the focus of the book it was also interesting to see how real the fear of witchcraft was.
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103 of 128 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and Creative, December 14, 2008
This review is from: The Scarlet Letter (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. I personally think that varying the subject matter and conflict would have made the message even more convincing; however, the novel is written with a confident call to action, which is the MOST important aspect of any work of fiction.

We live in a world in which immorality is everywhere, so a novel in which nothing inappropriate happens would be a pointless novel. Novels must address societies' immorality without sacrificing decency. Therefore, I commend The Scarlet Letter for referencing sexually immoral subject matter, without being a "sexual" book. This represents brilliance and should be observed by all writers of fiction.

Many readers have complained that The Scarlet Letter is irrelevant to today's society. To some extent, I agree. However, the greatest novels written today will be irrelevant to society two hundred years into the future. Therefore, there is no justification for criticizing writers simply because their masterpieces will someday seem irrelevant. As time progresses, scenery changes, climates change, countries split up or join together, governments change, laws change, etiquette changes, etc. However, the elements of human personalities do not change with time. It is for this reason that I constantly emphasize the importance of characters. The Scarlet Letter's characters' personalities are thoroughly developed and distinctive, so they exist throughout today's world, as well as tomorrow's world.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic, July 25, 2013
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I am reading, now as an adult, all the books I was supposed to have read and understood to expand my mind in high school and college. My goodness, what I have missed!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good copy, despite the fact I don't really like the story..., January 7, 2009
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Although I am not the biggest Hawthorne fan, this particular copy is very extensive in that it includes both the text and several critical essays which examine many theoretical aspects of the text (ie: feminist theory, psychoanalytic theory..etc.) Good for those who enjoy Hawthorne and would like a copy which provides additional insight into the text through critical essays. Good text for teaching.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Despite the old English it is a book that has so many lessons in it on forgiveness; therefore, it is well worth reading., November 12, 2013
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I am 80, and when I was in school, we always were taught what a great book The Scarlet Letter is. Of course, the subject matter was not fit for our tender ears in those days. I had never gotten around to reading the book and was so glad I did. It is heartbreaking and yet lovely at the same time. I enjoyed reading it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality version of a classic!, April 4, 2013
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This review is from: The Scarlet Letter (Paperback)
This is one of those must reads, and by must I mean usually mandatory to pass the class..lol. But, it all fairness this is a true classic of American literature and it was written by a master. There are other versions, but this one has a great cover, quality paper and the font size is easy to read. It makes checking this book off your bucket list a LOT nicer!
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The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Paperback - November 18, 2013)
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