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The Scarlet Letter
     

The Scarlet Letter

3.8 544
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
 

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The Scarlet Letter is an 1850 romantic work of fiction in a historical setting, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is considered to be his magnum opus. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an adulterous affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity.

Overview

The Scarlet Letter is an 1850 romantic work of fiction in a historical setting, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is considered to be his magnum opus. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an adulterous affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.
The story starts during the summer of 1642, near Boston, Massachusetts, in a Puritan village. A young woman, named Hester Prynne, has been led from the town prison with her infant daughter in her arms, and on the breast of her gown "a rag of scarlet cloth" that "assumed the shape of a letter." It is the uppercase letter "A." The Scarlet Letter "A" represents the act of adultery that she has committed and it is to be a symbol of her sin—a badge of shame—for all to see. A man, who is elderly and a stranger to the town, enters the crowd and asks another onlooker what's happening. The second man responds by explaining that Hester is being punished for adultery. Hester's husband, who is much older than she, and whose real name is unknown, has sent her ahead to America whilst settling affairs in Europe. However, her husband does not arrive in Boston and the consensus is that he has been lost at sea. It is apparent that, while waiting for her husband, Hester has had an affair, leading to the birth of her daughter. She will not reveal her lover's identity, however, and the scarlet letter, along with her subsequent public shaming, is the punishment for her sin and secrecy. On this day, Hester is led to the town scaffold and harangued by the town fathers, but she again refuses to identify her child's father.
The elderly onlooker is Hester's missing husband, who is now practicing medicine and calling himself Roger Chillingworth. He reveals his true identity to Hester and medicates her daughter. They have a frank discussion where Chillingworth states that it was foolish and wrong for a cold, old intellectual like him to marry a young lively woman like Hester. He expressly states that he thinks that they have wronged each other and that he is even with her — her lover is a completely different matter. Hester refuses to divulge the name of her lover and Chillingworth does not press her stating that he will find out anyway. He does elicit a promise from her to keep his true identity as Hester's husband secret, though. He settles in Boston to practice medicine there. Several years pass. Hester supports herself by working as a seamstress, and her daughter, Pearl, grows into a willful, impish child, and is said to be the scarlet letter come to life as both Hester's love and her punishment. Shunned by the community, they live in a small cottage on the outskirts of Boston. Community officials attempt to take Pearl away from Hester, but with the help of Arthur Dimmesdale, an eloquent minister, the mother and daughter manage to stay together. Dimmesdale, however, appears to be wasting away and suffers from mysterious heart trouble, seemingly caused by psychological distress. Chillingworth attaches himself to the ailing minister and eventually moves in with him so that he can provide his patient with round-the-clock care. Chillingworth also suspects that there may be a connection between the minister's torments and Hester's secret, and he begins to test Dimmesdale to see what he can learn. One afternoon, while the minister sleeps, Chillingworth discovers something undescribed to the reader, supposedly an "A" burned into Dimmesdale's chest, which convinces him that his suspicions are correct.

Product Details

BN ID:
2940013971738
Publisher:
DB Publishing House
Publication date:
02/24/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
237
File size:
596 KB

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

One of the greatest authors in American literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was a novelist and short story writer born in Salem, Massachusetts. Hawthorne’s best-known books include The House of the Seven Gables and The Scarlet Letter, works marked by a psychological depth and moral insight seldom equaled by other writers.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
July 4, 1804
Date of Death:
May 19, 1864
Place of Birth:
Salem, Massachusetts
Place of Death:
Plymouth, New Hampshire
Education:
Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, 1824

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The Scarlet Letter 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 544 reviews.
fon_addict58 More than 1 year ago
I read this book in high school and reread it last week. It is one of those novels that improves over time and experience of the reader. I highly recommend this for all adults who read this as teens. Go back and look at the story with the eyes of someone who has experienced love and loss. It will change the way you thought about this wonderful book.
yomamaFL More than 1 year ago
This book was one big waste of time. I thought I was downloading the actual book, but not one page of the original book was there, just a boring review and commentary of the times.
Bibliophile79 More than 1 year ago
This novel is considered to be one of the greats. Being an English Literature major, I felt I needed to read it. The synopsis is as follows: Hester Prynne, a woman living in Puritan New England, has had an affair with a man whose identity she refuses to reveal. From this union, Hester is impregnated, and the story opens on Hester holding the illegitimate child in her arms while standing on a scaffold in front of her entire town. As punishment for her adulterous act, Hester is sentenced to wear a large scarlet A on her breast for the rest of her life. As the rest of the story unfolds, the reader gains an understanding of Hester's true nature, as well as the nature of her child. This novel provides a clear view of life as a Puritan woman, yet I found it to be a bit "wordy" at times, often going off on tangents about nature or philosophy. By the end of the novel, I found myself not caring about any of the characters, even the child. Since this novel is taught in many high schools, perhaps I am missing something, and will read it again at a later time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sits on the ground
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is garbled in many places and does not correspond to its table of contents. Hard to read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"ethics" all res. ONE GOD PARENT ONLY
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im chandler
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Storm was on? o.o
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THIS IS NOT A CHATROOM! STOP USING IT LIKE ONE! ITS FOR REVIEWS OF BOOKS!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She smiles and turns back to the rabbit, petting his ears.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey, all. Howre things going here?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Hahaha awesome" *I laugh and eat a few marshmallows*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ello
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks away
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Swag- swag Joker- not sure Gir- Alex Lightless- Liam Angel- Fang
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*stares at Xavier curiously and tilts head to side*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Umm hi Jewelia? Watches the snow fall
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bye bye
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Thanks! I owe you one.... whoever you are."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tehe. I be Pippin. *she disapoofs*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kk