The Scarlet Letter
83 Installments—Entirely free
Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter is a tale of Puritanical America, a time and place when life was marked by harsh facts and firm beliefs, when people believed in the importance of community and in the surety of God's judgment. Hester Prynne is a woman who knows the pain of being cast out of her community. Her husband has vanished en route to America. Alone in a new country, she seeks comfort in the arms of a lover, something that her strict religious culture in Boston considers an extremely grave sin. A child is born to Hester, and her shame is known. She is made to wear a scarlet letter "A" for "adultery," to mark her as a sinner and an outcast. Little does Hester know, however, that her husband is alive and well, and now bent on avenging his wife's crime. A series of dramatic events—the schemes of her husband, the passionate distress of her lover, the harsh reaction of the town—all come together in a poignant and highly emotional tale, considered to be Hawthorne's greatest.
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Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was a pivotal figure in American literature, part of the innovative and imaginative group of writers and thinkers who brought about the "American Renaissance" of the nineteenth century. Born in New Hampshire, Hawthorne was raised by his mother and other relatives after his father died while overseas. Hawthorne was sent to college, but preferred his family home. Once he returned there after graduation, he retreated to his own quarters and dabbled in writing, although he did not publish any of these early pieces. After marrying, Hawthorne brought his family to Massachusetts, where he held a steady job at the Salem Custom House to make ends meet. In later years Hawthorne again took up writing and published his masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter, in 1850. The novel was well-received, and Hawthorne's legend as a master of fiction had been established. He went on to write such classics as The House of the Seven Gables and The Marble Faun, continuing to earn the favor of the American and international reading public. To this day, Hawthorne's works are beloved for their unique and haunting nature, exploring both dark and lighter aspects of American history, psychology, and landscape.Back to top
Opening Lines (Experimental)
A throng of bearded men, in sad-coloured garments and grey steeple-crowned hats, inter-mixed 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 ...
Reviewed by atmckechnie on May 16, 2011
Overwritten if not overwrought
I understand that the overly-heavy and purple prose was the way things were written back then but it kind of loses kick for a modern audience. I liked how the story built towards the climax and the character of Pearl. I think in general The Scarlet Letter was filled with some beautiful passages but the the long-windedness really took away from the emotional kick of the story.
Reviewed by schmannigan on Aug 13, 2009
Just some light summer reading
I'd read this in High School, but hadn't thought about it until my BF assigned it to his high school AP English class. My comprehension level this time was a lot higher, and I actually really enjoyed reading it. Also a surprizingly quick read, thanks to Daily Lit.
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Ratings for 'The Scarlet Letter' by Hawthorne, Nathaniel