- Paperback: 268 pages
- Publisher: AmazonClassics (May 2, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1542046165
- ISBN-13: 978-1542046169
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,327 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Scarlet Letter (AmazonClassics Edition)
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About the Author
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) was an American novelist and short-story writer known for his symbolic, psychological works The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables. Hawthorne grew up in Salem, Massachusetts, a town with deep Puritan roots that are reflected in his writings. Hawthorne, considered a Dark Romantic, focused much of his fiction on the innate evil and sin of humanity.
Top customer reviews
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I know that’s not how others may characterize her but all I saw was a woman of immense internal strength in the face of shame and suffering.
I found myself admiring her and suffering alongside this brave and beautiful woman.
I never had the chance to read this in high school and I’m so glad I waited. Any book assigned as a school project made me approach it as a prison meal... but this time I was able to approach it as a 5 star banquet spread.
I took my time savoring the archaic language and the poetic phraseology. I lingered as Hester was forced to bear the shame of youth and religiosity. I tried to absorb the despair and find the strength that she was forced to find and soon I learned to love her as though I had known her and her agony personally.
Nathanial Hawthorne has brilliantly critiqued the human condition and masterfully described the burden of shame, hypocrisy, vengeance and triumph.
This book is one for the ages!
A must buy if ever there was one.
The book starts off with Hester Prynne, the main character, being led up on the scaffold for the public to gawk at. She has been charged with adultery, which is obviously true because she has a baby and her husband hasn't been around in ages. However, she refuses to give up the name of her fellow adulterer. To her dress is pinned a scarlet letter, and she is released, but she'll spend the rest of her life being shunned and stared at.
The real beauty of The Scarlet Letter is the rich language never found in contemporary works. It gives you a real mental workout, and it's absolutely beautiful.
The characters are well-developed and interesting. The story is also interesting, though very sad. It shows the strictness of Puritan beliefs in the 1600s, it shows the difference between a person bearing shame and a person bearing secret guilt, it shows the price of sin and the gift of forgiveness. The Scarlet Letter is a true masterpiece.
Simply put: do not buy this addition of the book. Setting aside the totally unaesthetic cover art, which quite frankly looks like a compressed google image superimposed upon a black background, and lack of a synopsis or any key information on the back cover, the pages themselves are difficult to read as there are no clear paragraph indentations or chapter breaks thus making scansion difficult. Likewise, I have noticed editing errors as well. Stick with Penguin or any of the other staple publishers other than this disgraceful Millenium publication.
The prologue, leading to the tale of the discovery of the story (the Scarlet Letter is presented as a story-within-a-story) is long and leaves the reader impatient. Since it pertains to a different location and time from the main story, it is not quite clear how it enhances the tale.
The depictions of human feelings are exquisitely detailed, which is fairly remarkable because they are almost invariably gloomy feelings of guilt and shame. The pace, very slow at first, picks up towards the dramatic denouement, followed by a rather unsatisfactory conclusion. One wishes that the author would have thumbed his nose at the Puritans and allowed Hester Prynne a happy life ever after, but Hawthorne does not violate the moral conventions of the age and the conclusion would therefore have satisfied the most moralistic readers. No happy ending here, except for the one innocent character, so everyone who sinned paid the price, amen.
Seen in the light of the moral tradition in which the novel is set, and the barely less strict society in which it was written, the quality of the writing serves the purpose of moral edification beautifully. The long sentence, with their complex embedded clauses and dated vocabulary, is sometimes hard to follow, but always limpid once parsed. In that sense it is reminiscent of another moral tale of the age, Melville's Moby Dick, minus the see and with a different capital sin involved.
Overall, this is one of the canons of literature that should be part of the weel-educated reader's collection.