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The Scarlet Letter: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Paperback – Deluxe Edition, August 25, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Actress Elizabeth McGovern reads this acceptable abridgement with precise, clear diction. Her expressive voice is pleasant, effectively using breath sounds and pauses to recreate dramatic moods. Her usually quick tempo keeps the text from being ponderous, but it can be slower when necessary. Given the time period of the original work, her formal tone is appropriate. Her speech changes slightly for the different characters, but there is not much dialogue. The abridgement retains the continuity of the story. Consider purchasing this version for special education students who can't handle the longer, original text.-Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
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.