Title: The Scarlet Letter
Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
Set in the harsh Puritan community of seventeenth-century Boston, this tale of an adulterous entanglement that results in an illegitimate birth reveals Nathaniel Hawthorne’s concerns with the tension between the public and the private selves. Publicly disgraced and ostracized, Hester Prynne draws on her inner strength and certainty of spirit to emerge as the first true heroine of American fiction. Arthur Dimmesdale, trapped by the rules of society, stands as a classic study of a self divided.
“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”
I heard so many times that this book is incredibly boring, but I decided to give it a chance and it actually isn’t that bad. It’s the story of Hester Prynne, who has an affair and gets pregnant and the way that the Puritan community she lives in reacts to that. She is forced to wear a scarlet “A” on her dress so nobody ever forgets that she’s a sinner.
It’s always a bit strange reading books like these in the 21st century. On one hand, I understand that it was a different time and people had different values and I don’t think we should pretend history was any better than it actually was. On the other hand, it makes me so mad when I think of the horrible way women used to be treated and the fact that there are still some places in the world where a woman like Hester would be punished even worse than she was in this book.
It’s a short book, though it drags in some places because Hawthorne loves unnecessary details. But he’s very good at making you understand exactly what the characters are feeling. The book is full of his observations about human nature and I’d say it’s worth reading because of that even if you have no interest in the plot.