Skip to main content
PBS logo
Want fewer ads?

Search - The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter
Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hailed by Henry James as "the finest piece of imaginative writing yet put forth in the country," Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter reaches to our nation's historical and moral roots for the material of great tragedy. Set in an early New England colony, the novel shows the terrible impact a single, passionate act has on the lives of...  more »
ISBN: 5870
Publication Date: 1964
Pages: 214
Edition: Unabridged

0 stars, based on 0 rating
Publisher: International Collectors Library
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 1
Reviews: Member | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 25 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
I never read this book in high school and frankly, I'm glad I didn't. I don't believe an un-married modern teenager could fathom what the characters in this book are experiencing. I had expected to slog through and did not expect to enjoy it, reading it only because my book club chose it. How wrong I was!

The antiquated prose style takes getting used to, but once acclimated to the cadence, one can really enjoy the juicy morsels Hawthorne dishes up. This book is not for the faint of heart! High melodrama with good guys and bad guys and the ever self-posessed Hester Prynne. Deep themes of good and evil and the nature of man. And the writing! People just don't write like this any more...people don't even think like this any more and for that I love this book.

There are passages in this book that are as vivid as if I'd seen them in a painting. There were moments when I wanted to SCREAM at Hester Prynne, so vivid and palpable was her denial of her own rights.

If you are ready to be brought back to another time and place...read this book
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Sometimes it's tough to slog through the writing of Hawthorne. Not to mention the speech of the Pilgrims. But it's worth it.

I recently re-read this (after 40 years) and oddly enough, the book has drastically improved. As a teenager, in English class, we were scandalized by Hester's um, well, you know. But I now see a richer, more textured story fraught with many tragedies.

Hester Prynne, a single woman in a pilgrim colony, becomes pregnant. She is ostracized, forced to live apart, and is obstinant in her refusal to name the father. She must wear a big, bright red "A" whenever in public (and is ordered to sew these herself). Known to the reader, the father is the preacher.

This is also a love story. Their love, deep and abiding, is filled with gentleness as they secretly meet in the forest. The preacher, a good man, insists on admitting the truth; Hester won't let him. Her daughter is born and life goes on.

Meantime, Hawthorne subtlely points the reader in the direction of the village hypocrites, the liars, the politics, the gossip-mongoring, and the money-grubbers.

There is much more to this novel than a simple scandal. It is a classic because it resonates with its all-too-human readers. Buy it. Read it. Keep it.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Set in an early New England colony, a married woman has an affair with a prominent figure, she gets impregnated. The whole town finds out about this, but she will not tell who the father of her baby is and as a punishment she is condemned to wear a letter A for adultery. This is a story about the woman, her lover and the struggles that she and her lover go through
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 52 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I read this book when I was in middle school, and now, twenty years later, it holds even more power. It's a delightful story that says a great deal about the fact that what you see is not always what you get...that there is always more to the story than what meets the eye. I loved this book twenty years ago, and I'm sure that in another twenty years, it will still hold the same delight and insight.
bearcub avatar reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
this book was very hard for me to read. The text felt like a different language, I loved the story and the characters where so real. but if you're going to read this be warned it took me an hour to get through ten pages. Its a slow read and at times i want to put it down but it was so worth reading.
Read All 61 Book Reviews of "The Scarlet Letter"

Book Wiki

Common Title

Want fewer ads?