Customer Review

107 of 132 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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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 21, 2009 11:13:51 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 21, 2009 6:17:34 PM PDT
C. Chetty says:
I really appreciate the positive votes for my review of this novel.

Of all my book reviews on Amazon, this was the only one which received all positive feedback. So far, 6 out 6 reviewers found it helpful. My attitude toward The Scarlet Letter is cautiosly positive. In many aspects, the novel is commendable, but as a whole, I would discourage using The Scarlet Letter as a model of an "ideal" novel.

My other book reviews were negative, and those reviews received mostly bad feedback. However, I used the same criteria when reviewing each book, including The Scarlet Letter. Did I get good feedback for my review of this novel because my attitude appeared to be positive? Furthermore, in each of my book reviews, I reference the same literary elements. I am confused; I really would like for somebody to respond and explain the strange patterns in feedback which I am receiving.

Thank you,
C. Chetty

Posted on Feb 11, 2011 8:23:02 AM PST
SSB says:
So you dare to suggest rewrite of a classic? Wow! Are you taking on Shakespeare next? How about Hemmingway? Poe could use some help. While you are at it you might clean up the Federalist Papers.

Posted on Feb 20, 2012 12:56:15 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 20, 2012 12:57:01 AM PST
N. Moyer says:
I would agree that the main reason this review has received more helpful votes than your other book reviews is because it's mostly positive. However, I would argue that all of them are horrible. You say that you hold up all the books you've reviewed to the same criteria, which unfortunately is a regurgitation of junior/high school English Lit scrub-level talking points of what a novel should or shouldn't consist of. In fact, your review of To Kill A Mockingbird not only misses the point of the book so thoroughly as to be laughable, but also betrays an inability on your part to cognitively process any given novel as a whole.

Sorry to be so harsh, but the impression received from your reviews is that you fancy yourself a writer (reinforced by the vaguely smug comment you posted here, which prompted this response). I may be wrong, but it certainly reads like you've been to a few too many writing workshops. Yet you consistently ignore subtext, subjectivity and authorial intent in the few reviews you've written, while focusing wholly on surface themes and spouting platitudes worthy of a freshman year summer reading book report. It implies a fundamental misunderstanding of literature likely stemming from a lack of experience. There are so many sentences I disagree with in this very review, I would have to write an essay length review of your review to convey how vehemently I disagree with nearly all your ideas.

"However, the Scarlet Letter is the only novel I have read so far that, in my opinion, truly demonstrates development of characters." Maybe you need to read more.
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