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The Scarlet Letter (Annotated) [Kindle Edition]

Nathaniel Hawthorne , Vito Inguglia , Paul Meighan
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)

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Book Description

• New Introduction
• Analysis and interpretation of novel
• Complete, unabridged, and formatted for kindle to improve your reading experience
• Linked table of contents to reach your chapter quickly

The Scarlet Letter is a romantic work of fiction in a historical setting, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is considered to be his magnum opus.Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, Massachusetts during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an adulterous affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.

The experience of Hester and Dimmesdale recalls the story of Adam and Eve because, in both cases, sin results in expulsion and suffering. But it also results in knowledge - specifically, in knowledge of what it means to be immoral. For Hester, the Scarlet Letter is a physical manifestation of her sin and reminder of her painful solitude. She contemplates casting it off to obtain her freedom from an oppressive society and a checkered past as well as the absence of God. Because the society excludes her, she considers the possibility that many of the traditions held up by the Puritan culture are untrue and are not designed to bring her happiness.

As for Dimmesdale, the "cheating minister", his sin gives him "sympathies so intimate with the sinful brotherhood of mankind, so that his chest vibrate[s] in unison with theirs." His eloquent and powerful sermons derive from this sense of empathy. The narrative of the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is quite in keeping with the oldest and most fully authorized principles in Christian thought. His "Fall" is a descent from apparent grace to his own damnation; he appears to begin in purity but he ends in corruption. The subtlety is that the minister's belief is his own cheating, convincing himself at every stage of his spiritual pilgrimage that he is saved.

The rose bush, its beauty a striking contrast to all that surrounds it - as later the beautifully embroidered scarlet "A" will be held out in part as an invitation to find "some sweet moral blossom" in the ensuing, tragic tale and in part as an image that "the deep heart of nature" (perhaps God) may look more kind on the errant Hester and her child than her Puritan neighbors do. Throughout the work, the nature images contrast with the stark darkness of the Puritans and their systems.

Product Description


"All in all, a welcome addition to the Americanist's library." -- Joel Porte, Ernest I. White Professor of American Studies and Human Letters, Cornell University

Book Description

'One of the greatest allegories in all literature' D.H. Lawrence

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1656 KB
  • Print Length: 245 pages
  • Publisher: Easy Peasy Publishing (23 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00KJ59ZBG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
I have to admit that my heart sank as I dragged myself through the first 63 pages of the first chapter. The book does not begin with the story of the Scarlet Letter but rather the story of the narrator which threw me slightly. The unnamed narrator describes his job at a custom house in Salam, his work colleagues and finally he describes a small bundle of papers in which appears a rather ornate scarlet badge of the letter A. The papers contain the story of Hester Prynne and the circumstances as to which she was made to wear the letter on her breast and the narrator decides to write a fictional account of The Scarlet Letter.

As I have said, I struggled through this first chapter and the reason is is because of the writing. For some reason I found myself wading through the quite heavy prose regretting that I had ever picked up The Scarlet Letter. However once I have got past this first chapter and onto the actual Scarlet Letter story the narrative suddenly became much easier to read, the chapters shorter and I started to very much enjoy reading it.

The story I found to be an interesting one. Hester was sent to Boston ahead of her husband who remained in Europe on the understanding that he would eventually join his wife. After a few years go by, Hester becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby girl named Pearl which sends shockwaves through the Puritan community and is where the story begins. After much deliberation the towns' elders decide that as punishment, Hester should be made to wear a Scarlet Letter upon her breast thus drawing attention to her `sin'. Hester is a strong type who accepts her punishment and refuses to name the child's father even after considerable pressure to do so.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive reading. 1 Aug. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Set in the days of Puritan America this book shows just how small minded these first settlers were. When Hester Prynne finds herself pregnant she is thrown into prison and made to sew a scarlet A onto her bodice to denote that she is an adultress. The Father of the child, who I will not reveal is evidently a coward as he watches whilst poor Hester is set up on a platform, babe in arms wearing her badge of shame. On this day, looking over the crowd, Hester spies a man who she never thought she would see again and becomes nearly catatonic with the shock.

Many years later although she still wears the badge, the townsfolk have more or less forgiven her as she carries out charitable works and tends to the sick and dying. Her child, Pearl is an odd creature, wilful, spiteful and yet sometimes loving. This is probably as a result of her never playing with other children.

Is Hester the sinner or has she been sinned against? That dear reader is for you to interpret.

All I can say is, that this is a classic and even the film did fair justice to the novel although it did make one of the main characters slightly more attractive than he actually is portrayed in the book.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
The Scarlet Letter is truly one of literature's greatest triumphs, its characters and themes reverberating in our collective consciousness more than 150 years after its initial publication. Few novels inspire as much contemplation and feeling on the part of the reader. Hester Prynne, American fiction's first and foremost female heroine continues to haunt this world, inspiring a never-ending stream of scholarly debate. Even in our less puritanical age, some doubtless see her as a villainously great temptress, but to me she is a remarkably brave hero indeed. Her sin is known to all, and she never runs away from it, bearing the scarlet letter on her bosom bravely for all to see; she realizes the true measure of that sin, fretting constantly over the effects it will have on young Pearl, remaining steadfast in her beliefs while at the same time envisioning a new society where women and men can exist on more equal terms, free of the stultifyingly harsh punishments meted out on even the most repentant of souls by Puritanism. She shows her noble spirit by refusing to name her partner in sin and goes so far as to allow the ruthless Roger Chillingworth to torment the man she loves deeply enough to protect him for all time. Little Pearl is somewhat of an enigma, truly manifesting traits of both the imp and the little angel; her questions about the letter her mother wears and the minister who continually holds his hand against his heart reflect an insight that amazes this reader. Chillingworth is a thoroughly black-hearted man; I can certainly understand the blow he sustained as a result of Hester's sin, but his actions and thirst for prolonged revenge on the so-called perpetrator of the wrong he suffered can only be described as roguish and unpalatable. Read more ›
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating. 14 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
I am a 48 year old college student reading The Scarlet Letter for the first time. In fact, I have never read any of Nathaniel Hawthorne's works before--doesn't say much for my high school. Hawthorne's use of imagery and double meanings captivated me. ANALYSE ANYTHING--EVERYTHING HAS ANOTHER MEANING. I couldn't wait to read the next page and get to class to discuss it. When I read the passages again, I found more hidden meanings. I've gone on to read more of his works since and would now like to find out more about his family heritage. His family was involved in the Salem witch trials and the persecution of the Quakers during the 17th century. It has been suggested that this has influenced in his writings about guilt, shame, sin, & alienation.
I loved his allegorical treatment of the emotional ramifications brought on by social, family, and religious situations. What was chillingworth's sin anyway? Who cheated on who? I would say that the "goody-two shoe" minister, Arthur Dimmesdale, was the real villain. He never confessed to save Hester and Pearl until his dying day; he had nothing to personally gain by keeping his secret.
I "feel" for all the high school kids that do not appreciate or understand Hawthorne's stories. I suggest that you go to a quiet place, without interruptions--take the phone off the hook, and read. It will take time to get going; a little research would help. Coming to this site is a start. See what others think about his writing--BUT DON'T GIVE UP. You may even have to admit that you like it
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