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Customer Review

on 26 September 2005
In this classic tale written in 1850, N. Hawthorne tells the tragic tale of a fallen woman, Hester Prynne. In his essay entitled "The Custom House", the author pretends to have found a mysterious relic of cloth in the shape of the letter along with a manuscript in which a certain Jonathan Pue described the letter's wearer.
Thus the character of Hester Prynne was born, this adulteress who has to wear the shameful letter A embroidered on her garment in scarlet letter and insolent gold thread. Her error is adultery and the Puritan magistrates of colonial Boston decided that she should wear the bright letter affixed to her breath. In the opening scene, Hester is standing dishonoured before the town holding another man's child just as her long-lost husband Roger Chillinworth arrives in Boston. The story is tightly constructed and takes place in 24 chapters with the action in the first, the twelfth and the last revolving around the scaffold on which Hester suffers her punishment. The structure is taught and essentially limited to the description of the three adult characters of Hester Prynne, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth, each in turn wearing various masks to hide themselves from the failures of the human heart. Hester never reveals her lover's identity thus protecting her from public disgrace but not from his interior sense of guilt. At any rate she is a strong character, a rebel dwelling in solitude which grants her freedom of thought, particularly concerning the fate of women: "The world's law was no law for her mind" the author writes. To the reader she appears as a fascinating creature, captivating, rebellious, even intimidating. The dénouement is equally startling. After Hester's daughter Pearl marries, she returns to the small abandoned cottage and resumes her former life, not being able to remain an expatriate, the scarlet letter now voluntarily clamped to her bosom as if it were part of her true identity. Her triumph finally lies in her willingness to take up the mark that identifies her as a woman.
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