The Scarlet Letter (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: ...
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The Scarlet Letter (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

America’s first psychological novel, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a dark tale of love, crime, and revenge set in colonial New England. It revolves around a single, forbidden act of passion that forever alters the lives of three members of a small Puritan community: Hester Prynne, an ardent and fierce woman who bears the punishment of her sin in humble silence; the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, a respected public figure who is inwardly tormented by long-hidden guilt; and the malevolent Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s husband—a man who seethes with an Ahab-like lust for vengeance.

The landscape of this classic novel is uniquely American, but the themes it explores are universal—the nature of sin, guilt, and penitence, the clash between our private and public selves, and the spiritual and psychological cost of living outside society. Constructed with the elegance of a Greek tragedy, The Scarlet Letter brilliantly illuminates the truth that lies deep within the human heart.

Nancy Stade is trained as a lawyer and has worked in the federal government and the private sector. She currently lives in Mexico, where she is working on a novel.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593081706
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 10/1/2004
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 237
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 8.69 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nancy Stade is trained as a lawyer and has worked in the federal government and the private sector. She currently lives in Mexico, where she is working on a novel.

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

Read an Excerpt

From Nancy Stade's Introduction to The Scarlet Letter

Although the mark of Hester's crime is stitched in red across her breast, emblazoned in stigmata across the breast of her lover, and broadcast across the sky, Hawthorne never names her crime in The Scarlet Letter. The novel's title alludes to, but does not reveal, the letter A, which itself suggests, but does not divulge, the crime of adultery. By the time Roger Chillingworth, concealing his relationship to Hester when he wanders into the crowd during her exposure, inquires of a spectator "wherefore is she here set up to public shame," the two symbols of Hester's crime-The Scarlet Letter A and the baby Pearl-have all but revealed its nature. But The Scarlet Letter remains the fullest articulation of the crime, for Roger Chillingworth interrupts before the spectator has done more than insinuate the transgression that gives rise to the spectacle of public shame.

If The Scarlet Letter evokes Hester's crime without naming it, the novel tells almost nothing about Hester and Dimmesdale's affair. During the reverie that briefly distracts her from the hideous spectacle of which she is the center, Hester recalls in sequence her childhood home, her father and mother, her own youthful likeness, and the early days of her marriage, but in her remembrance she skips over the time from her adulterous encounter with Dimmesdale to her present circumstance, as she stands at the pillory. Possibly Hester and Dimmesdale consorted with initially innocent intentions after one of his sermons, although it is difficult to imagine Hester, even before her fall, as so devoted to Bible studies that she would seek or elicit her minister's private tutelage. Nothing in the novel, apart from what the reader can glean from the natures of Hester and Dimmesdale, permits the inference that the couple had an enduring affair, although nothing contradicts this possibility, either. But by the time the novel opens, and even more so by its close seven years later, the characters are so transformed that the reader can hardly draw informed conclusions about their earlier selves. Despite the novel's frequent references to Dimmesdale's repressed passion, a sexual encounter between Hester and him seems as remote from the events described in the novel as the Puritan penal system is from contemporary mores. In Studies in Classic American Literature (see "For Further Reading"), D. H. Lawrence assumed that Hester seduced Dimmesdale, an explanation that renders the act of adultery more plausible, but not any easier to imagine. Depriving his readers of the means of imagining the event that triggers Dimmesdale's unraveling, Chillingworth's vendetta, Pearl's birth, and Hester's disgrace seems to be a deliberate part of Hawthorne's artistic design.

The crime that gives the novel its name and preoccupies all of the characters, then, is shrouded as much by the symbolism that overshadows the thing symbolized as by the shame of the characters. Without an account of the criminal act, readers of The Scarlet Letter apprehend Hester's crime through the refracted light of multiple moral perspectives. In that he is Hester's creator, Hawthorne's view of Hester's crime is at least interesting, if not determinative of how readers of his day, or of ours, should respond. The narrator and the Puritan community both overtly pass judgment on Hester's act, although the former vacillates in the harshness with which he judges her. In addition, each of the three important adult characters-Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth, and Hester Prynne-present a particular response to Hester's adultery that may inform our own. The fourth important character, Pearl, though a child and only intuitively aware of the crime, offers an additional perspective as well as a real challenge to a response of unmediated censure, for if the Puritans cannot qualify their judgment of Hester's crime, they cannot acknowledge what Hester calls its "consecration." Though the perspectives of Hawthorne, the novel's narrator, the community, and each of the novel's four main characters say more about these individuals and their Puritan society than about adultery, each perspective contributes to the reader's multidimensional experience of the novel's central, unmentionable event.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4583 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 4513 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2011

    Read it again as an adult!

    If you can remember the discussions from high-school English class about this book--read it again and see how much you've grown up! If you've been married, betrayed, or have children- it's a totally different read from when your only worry is breaking curfew and going to the mall.

    35 out of 47 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2012

    One of my favorites!!!

    The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is one of the most well known pieces of literature, and it definitely deserves its title as an American classic. Set in a puritan colony in Massachusetts, the book depicts the life a young woman named Hester Prynne as she commits the ignominious crime of adultery. However, not only does she commit this sin with just anybody, her partner in crime turns out to be the town’s church minister. Then on top of this, Hester conceives a child she names Pearl. With the scarlet letter of shame she is now forced to where upon her breast, and with the child that was a direct result of her crime, she becomes the towns’ outcast. These elaborate conflicts carry on throughout the plot as Hester struggles to prevail over her disgrace and to keep incognito her fellow sinner. The third person narrative focuses on the development of Hester as she gains independence, and strives to achieve forgiveness and a normalcy back into her life. She starts work as a weaver in order to provide for Pearl, and help give back to the community. The piece also concentrates on Pearl, how she is the representation of a devil child, and her fascination and constant attraction to Hester’s scarlet letter. In addition, although Hester loves her with all her heart, she did not like the way Pearl was conceived. Pearl, along with her mother, is an outcast but develops into a strong, multifaceted child who in some minds, even sometimes in Hester’s, is evil. Pearl’s father is also developed in the story, as he deals with extreme guilt. He is driven almost insane with the knowledge that he should be sharing the same fate as Hester. Hawthorne writes in a way so well thought out, that the reader can feel many different emotions and conjure so many different opinions. Hawthorne pinpoints the themes of evil, sin, and the identity in society throughout the novel, really highlighting a psychological, as well as sociological, way of writing. He depicts these difficult subjects in such intricate ways through the different characters in his story. For example, the scarlet letter A helped Hester daringly analyze herself and her position in society, further letting her accept the awful she has committed. Arthur Dimmesdale on the other hand—Pearl’s father—had the internal burden of keeping his adultery a secret, thus displaying an alternative view and perhaps even a worse off way, to cope with his wrongdoing. Nevertheless, this is only one of the numerous interpretations of the different themes in the book, solidifying that the novel really does have a great deal of complexity. Although the novel is a fantastic classic, it does like anything else have a few weaknesses; some including the loquacious tone Hawthorne turns to when describing in depth different settings, people, and events. The narration during this lags on for a bit before it gets back into more interesting events. In addition, it is a classic, and the writing is obviously written with a different mannerism, which can be taken as a pain to read, or a very poetic technique. Even so, the Scarlet Letter’s benefits outweigh its flaws. The captivating plot, interesting characters, and complex themes keep the attention of the reader and make them want to keep reading to find out what will happen next. That is why the Scarlet Letter is a classic, and that is why it will be read for many more generations to come.

    29 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Better the Second Time Around

    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.

    22 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2012

    Really?

    Do you guys seriously have to use this as a chatroom or a random post blog? This is for reviewing not for stupidity. Get mad at me all you want but you can do your chitchat somewhere else. Be reasonable.

    13 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2012

    To Conversationalists:

    Please stop using this as a place to converse. I want a review on the book not to read ur conversations. This is not Facebook; go there if u want to chat. Please. Thank you.

    12 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2012

    Im12

    Does anyone think a 12 year old will like this book

    7 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Not an easy read

    I had to read this for my English Lit. Class. Although the story is a decent one, the book is so slow moving and filled with a lot of unnecessary details and happenings that didnt help the story progress, they were just there, like a lot of filler. It was difficult for me to get through.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Boring

    It was over descriptive and drug on forever. A very long very boring story. The plot line was okay but it didn't reach expectations.

    5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An Intimate Glimpse into Puritan Life

    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.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Blech

    If you like classic novels you'll love this. However if you don't it is super boring I only read the first chapter then sparknotes the rest.

    4 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 28, 2011

    great book, horrible reading quality

    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.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2012

    Derek

    Pulls out a knife and puts it up to her neck. He turns into a drakon. "so you are a vampire eh"

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2012

    The Fates reveal Saphs Fate

    Saphire Jonas will over throw the gods with the help of titans. The world shall be ruled by titans. Unless Saphire is stoped. It will begin on December 21st

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2012

    : )

    :)

    2 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2012

    BAD

    W

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 3, 2011

    Same Intriguing Novel!

    Ever since my first intro to the Scarlet Letter I have been moved by the way it was written. Knowing how sensitive this issue was during that time frame it was a heart-wrenching story. And it was totally believable. I love the classics but I think this has become my favorite. Sparks the imagination where infidelity is concerned amongst the clergy ranks; tears for the lost innocence of the heroine and ache for the shame and degradation she faced. And it still is happening today!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 2, 2010

    a waste of time

    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.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2013

    Swag

    .___. Cali, take this back. I don't need it. I'm sorry for missing your wedding. Have a great one. :) I hope he's right for you. <br>
    <br>
    Fang, yep. Appears so. .____. <br>
    <br>
    Bai, 'Kura. Maybe Lou will get on sometimes, I dunno. Keep loving Valdez. :) I'll think of you when I read the end of the series, and I'll always ship Lakero.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Ellie

    She quickly swam back and pet him. Whats wrong?!~ Ellie

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2012

    Hades

    *snarls* YOU HAVE DONE ENOUGH I SHOULD HAVE KILLED YOU ALSO!!!!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 4513 Customer Reviews

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