The Scarlet Letter (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
  • The Scarlet Letter (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
  • The Scarlet Letter (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
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The Scarlet Letter (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

3.9 2511
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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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…  See more details below


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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Barnes & Noble
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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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The Scarlet Letter (Illustrated + FREE audiobook link + Active TOC) 3.9 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 2511 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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&rsquo;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&rsquo; 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&rsquo;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&rsquo;s, is evil. Pearl&rsquo;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&mdash;Pearl&rsquo;s father&mdash;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&rsquo;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.
Vovo More than 1 year ago
I moaned, groaned, and complained about reading The Scarlet Letter for a literature class, but as I turned the first page, my attention was seduced. The writing itself is very unique in its style. Mostly, the chapters critically analyze the characters therin, delving into the abyss of thought. As well as displaying a fantastic portrayal of Puritan society, the symbols, the emotions, and the dialogue are masterful. The Scarlet Letter is well-wriiten, thought-provoking, and definitly a book that should continue to be read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first 17 pages of this particular version of Scarlet Letter is basically a "Cliff-Note" version of the book. Try not to read through it, otherwise you'll have no reason to read the actual novel. I read through the rest of the book, skipping through pages because, well, I already knew what was going to happen.
mmsSC More than 1 year ago
I read at least one classic each summer - some are good and some are actually as bad as I remember from High School. But I really enjoyed the Scarlet Letter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a required read in high school, which was quite some time ago, I had to read this story and if I needed a quick nap all I needed to do was pull out Scarlet Letter. Many years later I read it again. I knew there was a reason that Hawthorne had this grip on me. His writing is so dark, yet wonderfully illuminating. No one utilizes symbols better than Hawthorne. The idea that Hester lives on the edge between the city and the woods is a great example of how that represents her situation. It's absolutley brilliant. Also, there has to be a connection to Hawthorne's anguish through the character of Pastor Dimmesdale. The idea of living with so much guilt in a community that was intolerant of 'mortal' sins reveals the soul of Hawthorne and the quiet cry of a man tortured with his past.
I would highly recommend other stories of his, novels or short stories, in order to better understand his anguish and desire for perfection. Once I read other stories it made this novel so much easier to understand. This is on level with Romeo and Juliet without the feud.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read a banned or previously banned/challenged book for class, I chose this book to do the report on, however as I was doing the report I realized that this version definitely is not at all like the original. So if you're looking for the original make sure you choose a different book. There is chapters cut out and sentences changed to edit it so it's not banned anymore. The original is a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Bookjunkie40 More than 1 year ago
Well I finally finished The Scarlet Letter. I have to admit it was slow to begin, but then the mystery of who was the father was caught my interest. I did figure it out before the book confirmed it, but I have to admit it was the mystery I liked best. The writer did his job, I thought her husband was a jerk which I would guess was the writers intent. I guess the only reason why I read it was because it was on the classic list, and it did stand the test of time for it to remain in today's society, but who am I to judge?!?!?!?
kotachi More than 1 year ago
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!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She groans at Hun and runs out, done for the night.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dodges the headbutt and right uppper cuts him the grabs his weapons and runs for a purpose not cause he is scared
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey. I'm thirteen and an obsessive reader, and l loved this book. It's an interesting exploration of American's odd relationship with scandal and sex, even today. But be warned: It's tough going. I suggest reading it in ebook form like I did so you can look up words. I would still, however, highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*Stands up* "I must sleep for tonight. Cheers, my new axis partners."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
:O You do?!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And the movie was awesome. I honestly have the movie on dvr or did dont know if its still on there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TO EVERYONE ................................................. next post here that isn't a review will be reported to B&amp;N.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good im jusboredt
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Princess Zelda to anybody                                                                                                                                                                                                       Has Lacy been on lately? I haven't been on myself either, so please let me know.-looks at time- DAM! It's already 7:30am?! Bleh, I have to go really soon..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a unwed woman becomes pregnant and refuses to tell who the father is . she is made to where a red A on her clothes symbolizing that she is a adultress because she isnt married
Guacamole More than 1 year ago
Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter represents a dark blend of forbidden love, unspeakable crime, and malevolent revenge. Revolving around one powerful act of passion, the novel addresses the permanent damage inflicted upon Hester Prynne, Reverent Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingforth. Set in the Puritan community, Hester's adultery with Dimmesdale renders her an outcast denounced by society. While her crime is of the utmost severity, I found myself sympathizing with her throughout the retributions. Dimmesdale's suppressed guilt torments him, but his position in society prevents confession. Again, my sympathy extended to these helpless figures, human beings defeated by the overwhelming power of love. With an insatiable thirst for vengeance, Chillingforth, while the victim of the initial crime, becomes the aggressor and loses sympathy quickly. Blurring the line of morality, The Scarlet Letter seems to justify sin with a pure devotion, subtly commending the powerful act of passion by making the two involved the subject of one's pity. While the setting of this novel is in Puritan America, its themes are universal. The natures of sin, of guilt, and of penitence are addressed in the novel's carefully crafted plot. Despite societal scorn, regret never seemed to haunt Hester Prynne, making her oddly respectable. Her dedication to fulfilling her destiny was, instead, what won my affection. Determined to overcome the public's animosity, she devoted her time to mothering Pearl and giving back to the community. The series of good deeds following her sin redeemed her in my eyes, and the adultery only served to make her more human, and thus, more admirable. Exploring another fundamental aspect of human nature, the novel raises a question regarding public personas versus private lives. Despite being a high-standing member of the Puritan society, Reverend Dimmesdale failed to abide by the purity he preaches. Unable to ignore his love for Hester, he chose a path other than the Straight and Narrow, dooming himself to a lifetime of penitence. As the two sinners cope with the repercussions of their actions, Chillingforth, the victim of the crime, engages in a ruthless pursuit of revenge. His malevolence and desire to destroy seem to reverse the crime and justify the adultery; rather than acting out of hatred, at least Hester and Reverend Dimmesdale sinned out of love. The juxtaposition of these two crimes blends black and white, and leaves one to ponder the true meaning of sin.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Yeah. Sorry.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Sad how these losers have to converse on the nook
Anonymous 5 months ago