The Scarlet Letter: 11 Related Readings

The Scarlet Letter: 11 Related Readings

3.8 571
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
     
 

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When it first appeared in 1850, The Scarlet Letter enjoyed scandalous success. New England critics condemned its passionate subject matter. One critic complained that Nathaniel Hawthorne invested adultery with all the fascination of genius, and all the charms of a highly polished style. My preliminary chapter, wryly noted the author, has caused the greatest…  See more details below

Overview

When it first appeared in 1850, The Scarlet Letter enjoyed scandalous success. New England critics condemned its passionate subject matter. One critic complained that Nathaniel Hawthorne invested adultery with all the fascination of genius, and all the charms of a highly polished style. My preliminary chapter, wryly noted the author, has caused the greatest uproar that has happened here since witch-times.

As she emerges from the prison of a Puritan New England town, Hester Prynne defies the dark gloom much as the rose blooms against the prison door. With her illegitimate baby, Pearl, clutched in her arms and the letter A—the mark of an adulteress—embroidered in scarlet thread on her breast, Hester holds her head high as she faces the malice and scorn of the townsfolk. Her powerful, bittersweet story is an American classic that continues to touch the hearts of modern readers with its timeless themes of guilt, passion and repentance.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780971075610
Publisher:
Marco Book Company
Publication date:
01/01/2002
Pages:
410

Read an Excerpt

1

The Prison Door

A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak and studded with iron spikes.

The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison. In accordance with this rule, it may safely be assumed that the forefathers of Boston had built the first prison house somewhere in the vicinity of Cornhill almost as seasonably as they marked out the first burial ground, on Isaac Johnson's lot and round about his grave, which subsequently became the nucleus of all the congregated sepulchres in the old churchyard of King's Chapel. Certain it is that, some fifteen or twenty years after the settlement of the town, the wooden jail was already marked with weather-stains and other indications of age which gave a yet darker aspect to its beetle-browed and gloomy front. The rust on the ponderous iron-work of its oaken door looked more antique than anything else in the New World. Like all that pertains to crime, it seemed never to have known a youthful era. Before this ugly edifice, and between it and the wheel-track of the street, was a grass plot, much overgrown with burdock, pigweed, apple peru, and such unsightly vegetation, which evidently found something congenial in the soil that had so early borne the black flower of civilized society, a prison. But on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rosebush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him.

This rosebush, by a strange chance, has been kept alive in history; but whether it had merely survived out of the stern old wilderness, so long after the fall of the gigantic pines and oaks that originally overshadowed it—or whether, as there is fair authority for believing, it had sprung up under the footsteps of the sainted Ann Hutchinson, as she entered the prison door—we shall not take upon us to determine. Finding it so directly on the threshold of our narrative, which is now about to issue from that inauspicious portal, we could hardly do otherwise than pluck one of its flowers, and present it to the reader. It may serve, let us hope, to symbolize some sweet moral blossom that may be found along the track, or relieve the darkening close of a tale of human frailty and sorrow.

All new material in this edition is copyright © 1987 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

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What People are saying about this

Henry James
It is beautiful, admirable, extraordinary; it has in the highest degree that merit which I have spoken of as the mark of Hawthorne's best things--an indefinable purity and lightness of conception...One can often return to it; it supports familiarity and has the inexhaustible charm and mystery of great works of art.

Meet the Author

Brian Harding is Senior Lecturer in American Literature at the University of Birmingham.
Cindy Weinstein is Professor of English at the California Institute of Technology.

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 1 ratings. 571 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.
Anna Shapovalova More than 1 year ago
This particular version of the book was not worth the penny. Each page could take up to a minute to turn, you couldn't change the font type or size, and there weren't chapter marks in the 'contents' section. Not a pleasant book to navigate. Could not bear it in the end and bought a new version.
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 7 months 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*