The Scarlet Letter The Scarlet Letter discussion

What is it about this book?

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Annie I had to read this in High School as well. And enjoyed it. I think that a lot of people don't like this book and other books that they've been assigned in school because the teacher takes whatever work of literature assigned too seriously.

My teacher, in high school, was amazing, our whole class had many inside jokes, including some regarding this text. When he made us act out a scene, he would participate too. That was one of my favorite classes in High School.

message 19: by Mia (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mia i remember i read this in high school, and reading it i had no clue what was going on because of the old english. but when we had class discussions on it i started to understand and could go back and read it better. i began to really enjoy this book

message 18: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann Roberts The Scarlet Letter is one of my favorite works of all time. We were assigned this work as a summer-reading book between eighth and ninth grades. Even after all these years and discussing the book in classes, what I definitely remember is Hawthorne's writing style (difficult, but beautiful), the color imagery he uses, and the difference between feeling, acknowledging, and accepting guilt both publicly and privately. This last part is something that I feel Americans don't deal with enough--consequences of their actions and not being able to hide wrongdoing from themselves, even if they manage to do so from the world at large.

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

I liked it when I read it for university, but I loved it when my prof got all excited and delivered an hour long lecture on his reading of the novel. His analysis was so esoteric and iconoclastic and compelling that I changed my opinion from like to love immediately. The sheer versatility of the novel, that leads to multiple analyses, is what makes this a classic. Even the narrator in the text asks us to consider possible alternative explanations for the things we see. A symbol isn't the same for all. Hawthorne was writing pseudo-poststructuralism and pseudo-semiotics long before modernism even reared its head.

Scott Whitney I may be in the minority, but I love this book. The story of crime and punishment, personal redemption, and going against the grain and still holding your head up high. Hester Prynne is one of my favorite characters in literatue because she does not do what is expected of her, and if she were to have left, she would not be near the man that she loved, as undeserving as that man may be. I find the psychology of the book apealing also as each character is seen both from without and within.

Jason Lilly I'm not a Hawthorne fan. His writing is wordy and weighty. However, I will say that I agree that The Scarlet Letter is a tough book to shake from your psyche. I think it depends on where you stand as a person. I felt for Hester Prynne because she was a victim of constricting rules, gossip, backbiting. If you have ever been ostracized because of a "mistake" rather than forgiven, then you know what I mean. So much of what made the book stick with you depends on how you feel about her "sin", on whether you believe in forgiveness or punishment. It is also a very spiritual book. Do you believe sins should be punished or that all believers are redeemed by the blood of Christ and are therefore holy and acceptable to God regardless of their sin.

I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. Read it once, probably won't read it again. But it is memorable.

message 14: by Adria (new) - added it

Adria I had to read this book in college, and I just never got into to it. I have re-read it since and it just never captured my attnetion.

message 13: by Anuja (last edited Aug 30, 2011 08:35AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anuja If the book is seen purely from the perspective of language and not the plot, I thought it was a particular display of genius on the part of Hawthorne to have written it so beautifully that something considered so dreadful as to qualify for the highest rung in the ladder of shame(created by man)was depicted in such a dignified manner as if even sins deserved some degree of respect. I found it a singularly genius piece of work as the beauty and dignity of expression seen about such a supposedly dark and shameful thing left me overwhelmed. We all have a lot to learn from it.

Stephen Livingston It's Hawthorne's beautiful prose that makes his stories so good for me.

Evelyn This is one of my favorite books. However, it doesn't surprise me that so many people view it more as a torture device rather than an amazing book. For me, its not just the deep implications of the story, but also the way Hawthorne captures the emotions and conflicts of his characters. For example, he may dedicate a chapter to describing the emotions or internal conflicts of one specific character, but such focus is what makes this novel beautiful. And as Michelle said,its one of those novels you do not want to rush through.

message 10: by Elyse (new) - rated it 1 star

Elyse I thought this book was one of the worst, heavily prose-ridden piece of 'literature' I've ever had to suffer through. I still have painful memories of reading it...

Michelle What is it about this book? Hawthorne gave a retrospective view of typical Americans in Puritan times. I am attracted by his admission that all people are made of the same flesh. Some of these fleshes are ascetic, and some are not; nevertheless, all have their faults, and none should presume otherwise about him- or herself.
The prose is beautiful. You need to take your time when you read it. Milk it. Forget time, forget how many other books there are on your to-read list. Enjoy the moment with this book. It's worth it!

Eeiko Yes, there is something about this book. Really nothing happens, but I loved it. I think it's a personal connection with me, the whole guilt thing. I just like the way it's written. It really says something to me.

Judy I listened to the audio book version. Quite frankly, I don't know if I could have slogged through the book. It certainly has it merits though because it paints a good picture of the hypocrisy of the time as well as the culture. (That's not to say our time is any better as far as hypocrisy is concerned, we just have different ones, as does every culture IMO.)

Barbara I like the book, but agree that it is a little difficult to get through. I read it on my Kindle so could look up words I was unfamiliar with which made it easier to understand in spots.

EDantes I really like this book. Yes, it is a little difficult to plow through. But I think the story is interesting and thought-provoking. I have read it several times over the course of many years, and I am still not quite sure what to think of Hester Prynne. When I read as a young, single person many years ago, I found her to be strong, moral, and righteously defiant. At more recent readings I am troubled by her failed attempt to flee in the end.

Interesting to see so many negative comments about this book - both here and in the book reviews. My kids haven't been forced to read it in school like I was. I don't think it is read as much as in the past. I think that is unfortunate, but I seem to be in the minority.

Maxine I think the interesting thing about this novel is that, in many ways, it is quite feminist - surprising given that it was written by a man in the 19th century when 'adultery' was considered a sin and a woman who conceived out of wedlock was to be shunned. Yet, Hester holds her head up, even though forced to wear the scarlet letter, refusing to name the father while Dimmsdale, who is the father, but refuses to acknowledge the fact, wastes away, wracked with guilt.

message 3: by Gracellyn (last edited Apr 01, 2011 07:17AM) (new) - added it

Gracellyn Yeah, I read it this year...and I don't think I will be reading it again. ;) I think it was worth finishing, because it is a "classic" though.

message 2: by Suzie (new)

Suzie I thought it hard to oconcentrate on,, i had to read it for english and found it unsatisfying

message 1: by Clare (new)

Clare OK, it's a couple of years since I read this book and it took two attempts (I picked it up, got fairly involved, then lost interest after snooping to see the end (very bad habit of mine) until a bit later on I decided I might as well finish it.) Anyway, whilst, yes, this book is quite "heavy" and not always the easiest or most diverting read, it has, for lack of a better way of putting it "stayed with me", or rather, I quite enjoy it in retrospect. I don't know quite what it is, seeing as there's not a vast amount of action and I can't remember the full details, but it stands out in my mind as quite a unique, slightly weird, book. I don't know quite what it is but I think it's down to the setting, Hawthorne's writing style and the whole general Gothic atmosphere of the book that made it stick in my mind. Any other thoughts?

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