Writer: Nathaniel Hawthorne
Publisher: Penguin Popular Classics (1994, first published in 1850)
Borrowed from: Fanda
Hester Prynne has waited for two years for her husband to join her in New England settlement. The husband arrived just to find her wife with a small baby and a big scarlet letter A (for Adultery) worn on her breast as the punishment from the settlers for her sin.
Hester and her daughter Pearl were isolated from the neighborhood and lived through each other company only. Even though Hester had been pushed by everyone to tell who was the father of her daughter, Hester never revealed it. She insisted to keep the secret within her heart, to protect the man she loved. Her silence made the husband crazy with hatred and vengeance, and he started to plot some cruel revenge for the mysterious man.
Meanwhile, Hester and Pearl has begun to win respect from the society, with all her charitable acts and bravery, which helped a lot in the hard settlement life during that period.
The Scarlet Letter is one of the most difficult books I’ve ever read. Not only it is full of symbols, but the language itself is pretty hard to understand, with some flowery style that is not really my cup of tea 🙂 Hester’s strength and bravery (with the symbol of the scarlet letter that she carried everywhere) contradicted the moral cowardice and shame of the man she loved, who allowed her to face the guilt alone. The justification of Hester is to protect this man, but apparently it only created more burden to the man itself.
Another interesting thing is how Hester- with her sin, public shame and punishment from the society, slowly became the most exemplary person in the neighborhood, with her charitable acts, kindness and love for everyone. Even though sometime she felt afraid that Pearl, her daughter, was actually the representative of the devil, created by sin, because of her free spirits and sometimes demonish manners. But Pearls was actually only a child, a daughter loved by her mother and created by the act of pure love.
This slow plot of the book almost killed my patience, and I think you really need a good mood to read The Scarlet Letter. I remember I watched the movie years ago, starring Demi Moore as Hester Pynne, and I don’t blame the producers to twist and turn the story to become lighter and more dramatic (even though the movie itself got a very bad rating). The bland, slow plot is actually a bit of killjoy, but I guess that is more of the classic style of the authors during the period.