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Books Read In 2019 > The Scarlet Letter -Spoilers

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message 1: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 5978 comments Mod
Please use this thread to discuss the book freely!


message 2: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) I read this book several years ago but got more from it this time reading. Hawthorne is not my favourite author but I do think he did a good job with this book for the time period.
Here is my review:
Read for the second time. Hester Prynne is a noble soul and I think Hawthorne depicted the 'fallen woman' in a sympathetic and nonjudgemental way. Interesting for the time in which it was written, and way ahead of Hardy and Tess, although Tess of the D'Urbervilles is the better work.

I liked the way Hawthorne did not make Pearl, the illegitimate daugter of Hester, an 'angel' child but realistically somewhat precocious and demanding. She is very aware of her difference from other children and the prejudicial behaviour of others towards her and her mother.


message 3: by Macala (new)

Macala | 8 comments I was worried at first about this book due to the intro, but once chapter 1 started I couldn’t put it down. It was written so beautifully, and the words flowed so smoothly throughout. I agree that writing Pearl a little naughty and a whole lot mischievous was a good way to go. A child that was practically shunned by everybody besides her mother would not be a perfect angel.I felt bad for Hester after she replaced the scarlet A after the short hour of freedom from it. She felt the pain of all the scrutiny much deeper after feeling the burden gone for the time in the Forrest. I hope everybody else enjoyed the book, and Ilook forward to hear what others thought on it.
Smile,
Macala


message 4: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1551 comments I like the relationship between the grown up Pearl and Hester.


message 5: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 5978 comments Mod
Macala wrote: "I was worried at first about this book due to the intro, but once chapter 1 started I couldn’t put it down. It was written so beautifully, and the words flowed so smoothly throughout. I agree that ..."

Thanks for posting your comments Macala. I really appreciate it.

I like your analysis about Pearl and how Hawthorne wrote her character. I felt she needed a good spanking every once in a while but as you said, under the circumstances, with her own "S" weighing her down, she was also shunned by the same society as her mother, if not more in a way.


message 6: by Skye (new)

Skye | 327 comments I always found this book to be very different in certain aspects; Hester is extremely noble and I always wondered how she felt.


message 7: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 5978 comments Mod
Skye wrote: "I always found this book to be very different in certain aspects; Hester is extremely noble and I always wondered how she felt."

Different how Skye?

I think, as I remember when I read it, Hester took her "S" and wore it well. Hawthorne's writing of her character projected her as a strong woman. I don't think she was meek and mild. You?


message 8: by Skye (new)

Skye | 327 comments That's my point. She was noble, and she also did not let the others plague her. She was extremely strong and proud, and kept her secrets, too!


message 9: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 5978 comments Mod
Skye wrote: "That's my point. She was noble, and she also did not let the others plague her. She was extremely strong and proud, and kept her secrets, too!"

She certainly did!


message 10: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) I am wondering what you all think of the men in the story, Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth?

I think Hester truly regretted her passionate liaison with Arthur and rather than let this experience make her bitter she becomes gentle and compassionate.


message 11: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 5978 comments Mod
Tracey wrote: "I am wondering what you all think of the men in the story, Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth?

I think Hester truly regretted her passionate liaison with Arthur and rather than let this exp..."


I don't think she regretted her relationship with Arthur at all Tracey. The love affair, having Pearl, made her a much stronger, wiser woman. I believe she was always gentle and compassionate.


message 12: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1551 comments Hester thought Chillingworth was dead, didn't she? I thinks she truly loved Arthur, but was the stronger of the two. He didn't have the inner strength that Hester did.


message 13: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 5978 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "Hester thought Chillingworth was dead, didn't she? I thinks she truly loved Arthur, but was the stronger of the two. He didn't have the inner strength that Hester did."

Yes Rosemarie, she did think he was dead. Arthur, IMO, had no backbone.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 409 comments Well, I was able to finish this one just under the wire. I'm glad I read it, though a lot of that is because I always felt like it was a hole in my survey of American Literature.

Overall I enjoyed the book, though there were some aspects I thought were dragged out--especially knowing that some kind of doom was coming, I felt like it took a while to reach the actual end.

Interesting to contrast the power of shame in that period (and surely Hawthorne's as well) with our own. Seems to me that nowadays there's a 'war on shame', which isn't totally misguided, I don't think, but neither do I think that shame is always a bad thing. I don't think it's proper as a destructive force, but I do think in certain situations it can be a constructive force. Drawing the line between the two might be difficult though.

Dimmesdale is a hard character to like, given the fact that he let Hester suffer without taking his place beside her, though they probably would have hung them both if he had. If Hester had been vindictive, she could have denounced him in the beginning--his speech almost sounded like he was begging her to.

Mistress Hibbins was an odd character--how was it that she was able to talk so openly about consorting with witches and have more freedom than Hester? I guess because her brother was the governor. Hawthorne mentions that she was executed later--I read that this character was based on Anne Hibbins, who was indeed executed for witchcraft in 1656.


message 15: by John (new)

John Bryan wrote: "Mistress Hibbins was an odd character--how was it that she was able to talk so openly about consorting with witches and have more freedom than Hester? ..."

Bryan,
Mistress Hibbins also seemed to be an odd character to me. I was trying to figure out what her purpose in the novel was. It is strange that while Hester was condemned for a sin of passion, a very human and understandable sin, Mistress Hibbins did not seem to be condemned in any way for admittedly consorting with the devil.


message 16: by John (new)

John This was my second time to read The Scarlet Letter. Both times it was a 5 star experience.

One thing that struck me is that it is a novel of opposites or reversed roles.

Dimmesdale was a preacher with the job to comfort and counsel others on sin, but he couldn't do that for himself. Hester counseled him in the forest.

Chillingworth was a physician with the job to heal the body, but he was intent on killing Dimmesdale. (And I love that name...Chillingworth. He caused chills whenever in the picture.)

Hester was given the A as a penalty or penance to reform her, but she was not reformed by it. If anything, she became more independent and sure of herself. The A, in my opinion, did not define her. As the letter came to mean something different in her old age, she defined it.


message 17: by John (new)

John Tracey wrote: "I liked the way Hawthorne did not make Pearl, the illegitimate daugter of Hester, an 'angel' child but realistically somewhat precocious and demanding..."

Tracey,
I felt that Pearl was a personification of the tormented emotions of Dimmesdale and Hester. After the final scene at the gallows, Pearl's behavior softened. The truth was out and neither Dimmesdale or Hester had to worry about hiding it.


message 18: by John (new)

John Tracey wrote: "I am wondering what you all think of the men in the story, Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth?..."

Chillingworth's physical appearance was an outward reflection of his inner evilness. As he brought Dimmesdale closer to death, he himself became uglier.

His physical appearance was also visible to the whole town. It was a mark, like Hester's A, but the whole town did not notice it.


message 19: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) Loretta wrote: "Tracey wrote: "I am wondering what you all think of the men in the story, Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth?

I think Hester truly regretted her passionate liaison with Arthur and rather th..."


I agree that the feelings they had for each other cannot be regretted, but the effects of acting on this, especially on Arthur. I think Hester would have turned back the clock if she could have because of this.


message 20: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) Bryan wrote: "Well, I was able to finish this one just under the wire. I'm glad I read it, though a lot of that is because I always felt like it was a hole in my survey of American Literature.

Overall I enjoye..."


I agree that there must be responsibility for one's actions and that conscience and justice must come into force for those who deny others life or liberty. However, I do not think public shame is something that should happen, it's like the kettle calling the pot black; who hasn't done something that they personally know was less than charitable. Integrity is something that one aims for but is not always achieved.

I think another reason Hester rather than Mistress Hibbin was judged is because she was young and beautiful. For some reason many like to see such fall.


message 21: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) John wrote: "This was my second time to read The Scarlet Letter. Both times it was a 5 star experience.

One thing that struck me is that it is a novel of opposites or reversed roles.

Dimmesdale was a preacher..."


I agree. I believe that it is not what we or others call us but what God would call us. Many have a title that they don't deserve whilst many unheard of and mainly unseen are giants in the things that matter.


message 22: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 5978 comments Mod
Carrie wrote: "I finally finished this book yesterday after many attempts throughout the years. I even went back and read the introduction after finishing.
I have such strong hatred for this book. It is not Hawth..."


Excellent review Carrie!


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