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279 pages, Paperback
First published March 16, 1850
We may realize its value, in the present case, by imagining the book with the scarlet letter omitted. It is not practically essential to the plot. But the scarlet letter uplifts the theme from the material to the spiritual level. It is the concentration and type of the whole argument. It transmutes the prose into poetry. It serves as a formula for the conveyance of ideas otherwise too subtle for words, as well as to enhance the gloomy picturesqueness of the moral scenery. It burns upon its wearer's breast, it casts a lurid glow along her pathway, it isolates her among mankind, and is at the same time the mystic talisman to reveal to her the guilt hidden in other hearts.The entire story - each character, each event, people's appearances, even objects - is filled with symbolism. Light and darkness, sin and secrecy, suffering and redemption, all have a role. It can be a little - or a lot - hard to wade through the old-fashioned language and viewpoint of The Scarlet Letter, but it really rewards the reader who's willing to look deeper.
Those who had before known her, and had expected to behold her dimmed and obscured by a disastrous cloud, were astonished, and even startled, to perceive how her beauty shone out, and made a halo of the misfortune and ignominy in which she was enveloped.Many, many years ago, my Honors 11 English class was assigned The Scarlet Letter by our teacher, Mrs. Janet Fuchs. Although I read a lot back then, when I was sixteen I was not very interested in delving into the wrongs wrought by the Christian patriarchy. Instead I relied on Cliffs Notes (to Mrs. Fuchs’ dismay, I was not subtle about it). Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to read more classics—those never assigned and those that I bluffed my way through—but I hadn’t gotten around to this one. Well, Mrs. Fuchs passed away a couple of weeks ago. She was a great teacher, fondly remembered by a generation of students, and I’m sure I would have learned a lot more from her had I actually put forth the effort. So, as way of honoring her (though perhaps a very weird of way), I decided to finally read The Scarlet Letter.
„Acest semn, omul acela [Dimmesdale, firește, n.m.] îl purta pe el! Ochiul lui Dumnezeu îl vedea! Îngerii îl arătau mereu cu degetul! Diavolul îl cunoștea bine și-l rodea fără istov cu gheara lui aprinsă! El însă îl ascundea cu viclenie... Acum, în ceasul morții, iată-l în fața voastră! Vă cere să priviți iarăși litera stacojie a lui Hester! E vreunul dintre voi care să pună la îndoială judecata Domnului asupra unui păcătos? Priviți! Priviți groaznica ei mărturie!
Și cu un gest convulsiv, își desfăcu la piept veșmîntul sacerdotal. Atunci, revelația se săvîrși!... O clipă, privirile mulțimii cuprinse de groază se concentrară asupra înspăimîntătorului miracol, în timp ce pastorul stătea drept ca un om care, într-un acces de extremă durere, cîștigase o victorie. Apoi se prăbuși pe platformă (pp.243-244)”.
"Indeed, the same dark question often rose into her mind with reference to the whole race of womanhood. Was existence worth accepting even to the happiest among them?"
"What a strange, sad man is he!" said the child, as if speaking partly to herself. "In the dark nighttime he calls us to him, and holds thy hand and mine, as when we stood with him on the scaffold yonder! And in the deep forest, where only the old trees can hear, and the strip of sky see it, he talks with thee, sitting on a heap of moss! And he kisses my forehead, too, so that the little brook would hardly wash it off! But, here, in the sunny day, and among all the people, he knows us not; nor must we know him! A strange, sad man is he, with his hand always over his heart!"
"But there was a more real life for Hester Prynne, here, in New England, than in that unknown region where Pearl had found a home. Here had been her sin; here, her sorrow; and here was yet to be her penitence. She had returned, therefore, and resumed--of her own free will, for not the sternest magistrate of that iron period would have imposed it--resumed the symbol of which we have related so dark a tale. Never afterwards did it quit her bosom."