The Scarlet Letter and Selected Tales [Penguin Classics] Paperback – 1986
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The Scarlet Letter tells the story of Hester Prynne, her lover and her love-child. The misfortunes of Hester, almost literally branded by society as a fallen woman, are related with racking poignancy and supreme imaginative stamina. Hawthorne's condemnation of the Clavinist-Puritan society which persecuted so relentlessly those transgressing its moral code is harsh and explicit and underlies the other, much shorter tales collected in this volume. Yet these, like Scarlet Letter, also reveal a certain moral ambivalence on the part of Hawthorne which led him to regard his novel both as a 'romance' and as 'a tale of human frailty and sorrow'.