First published in 1850, The Scarlet Letter is Nathaniel Hawthorne's masterpiece and one of the greatest American novels. It's themes of sin, guilt and redemption, woven through a story of adultery in the early days of the Massachusetts Colony, are revealed with remarkable psychology penetration and understanding of the human heart.
Hester Prynne is the adulteress, forced by the Puritan community to wear a scarlet letter A on the breat of her gown. Arthur Dimmesdale, the minister and the secret father of her child, Pearl, struggles with the agony of conscience and his own weakness. Roger Chillingworth, Hester's husband, revenges on himself on Dimmesdale by calculating assaults on the frail mental state of the conscience-stricken clerric. The result is an American tragedy of stark power and emotional depth that has mesmerized critices and readers for nearly a century and a half.
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Review 1 for The Scarlet Letter
Date:January 6, 2009
The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, takes place in the 1600s in Boston, which was a Puritan community at that time. The Puritans had extremely strict moral codes, and adultery, a subject matter in this novel, was deemed by the Puritans in the same way that felonies today are regarded. In my opinion, the most impressive aspect of the Scarlet Letter is the ingenious connection between the novel's message and character development. In the Scarlet Letter, a single incident of adultery has unforeseen consequences that affects four people. How each character responds to the situation determines his or her physical and mental outcome in the story. The core message of the novel is that hiding one's sins causes more anguish than revealing one's sins. The character development is superb, but the novel does not seem to use the developed characters to influence the plot. The subject of adultery was a creative element to develop characters, but I wish that the author had introduced a different conflict toward the end of the novel to show how the 3D characters would have reacted to the change in subject matter.I commend The Scarlet Letter for referencing sexually immoral subject matter without being a "sexual" book. I want to mention that the novel repeatedly references the Puritan doctrine of salvation, which I believe is not completely Biblical. Christian readers can decide what they think about this, but remember that Puritans' confidence in their beliefs did not mean that they always had the right ideas.Many reviewers have complained that The Scarlet Letter is irrelevant to today's society. However, the elements of human personalities do not change with time. It is for this reason that I constantly emphasize the importance of characters. The Scarlet Letter's characters' personalities are thoroughly developed and distinctive, so they exist throughout today's world in a modernized form.