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The Scarlet Letter and Other Writings: Authoritative Texts, Contexts, Criticism (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – 25 Feb 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 4Rev Ed edition (25 Feb. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393979539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393979534
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 392,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

1. The Prison-Door. 2. The Market Place. 3. The Recognition. 4. The Interview. 5. Hester at her Needle. 6. Pearl. 7. The Governor's Hall. 8. The Elf-Child and the Minister. 9. The Leech. 10. The Leech and His Patient. 11. The Interior of a Heart. 12. The Minister's Vigil. 13. Another View of Hester. 14. Hester and the Physician. 15. Hester and Pearl. 16. A Forest Walk. 17. The Pastor and His Parishioner. 18. A Flood of Sunshine. 19. The Child at the Brookside. 20. The Minister in a Maze. 21. The New England Holiday. 22. The Procession. 23. The Revelation of the Scarlet Letter. 24. Conclusion. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'One of the greatest allegories in all literature' D.H. Lawrence --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on 14 Mar. 1999
Format: Hardcover
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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