Michael's Reviews > The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
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Jul 17, 10

bookshelves: classics, 1001-books-to-read-before-you-die, 19th-century
Read in July, 2010

** spoiler alert ** Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is profound piece of literature, and the characters and imagery are beautifully written. Hawthorne takes the concept of morality and adultery and just descripts the struggles from the effected parties extremely well. The one thing that stood out most for me was just how well written all the characters were, you can’t help to feel their pain and understand what they are going through.

Hester Prynne, the bearer of the Scarlet “A” on her breast, her badge of shame. Branded for adultery for everyone to see, Hester still has a desire to redeem herself. She never reveals her lover’s identity and for that she has been publically shamed.

Her lover is a well respected member of the community (I won’t reveal who it is just in case people aren’t aware and don’t want a spoiler). He is faced with carrying the burden of his sin in secret, always putting his hand over his heart, an expression of the pain that is dwelling up inside him. He lives with his sin until it all begins to unravel and he breaks.

Roger Chillingworth is Hester’s husband; ashamed of the betrayal, he had changed his name so no one would know. He takes up the role of the local doctor, in an attempt to find and get close to his enemy. He has asked Hester to keep his true identity a secret, while he searches for her lover and the father of Pearl.

Pearl, Hester’s daughter, known as the demon child, is a devilish by nature. I have the feeling that she is very aware of what’s going on and knows who her father is, and she is just baiting them all to reveal the truth. I always thought of Pearl as the-demon-on-the-shoulder type character.

Each character is simply amazing and with the judging townsfolk, the struggle feels so real and you can’t help but feel for the characters. I found this book more enjoyable after I finished reading it and began reflecting on it. The Scarlet Letter did at times feel drawn out but overall it was well worth reading.
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