The Scarlet Letter
I’m writing this review after having read The Scarlet Letter twice. As I mentioned in my earlier post An Introduction to Posts on the Scarlet Letter, the first time was in AP English just a few years ago. I enjoyed it then, and I’ve found that my opinions haven’t changed a bit upon the reread.
The Scarlet Letter doesn’t have the most exciting plot in terms of action and adventure, but for the first time reader it does contain a mystery. From the second chapter the reader knows that Hester Prynne has committed adultery, but she swears never to reveal the name of the man who sinned with her. And she stays true to her word.
However, I personally find the internal conflicts much more interesting than the external one. Externally, it would appear that being forced to wear the scarlet letter is not much of a punishment, but the internal aspects, especially the psychological pain, are quite powerful. Hester’s husband is driven by a desire to seek revenge, and the father of Hester’s baby feels the great burden of his secret guilt. I find that it’s very easy to consider what it would be like to be in the characters’ situations or in situations like them. I think it provides some real insight.
I also think it’s very well written, although it may take some getting used to for the modern reader.
It is a little difficult, though, for me to consider this book outside of a school setting simply because of my experience. I can tell you that we had a lot of fun with it in AP and we also had some great discussions about it in my American Lit class this year. I can also tell you that it’s a great book to start teaching symbolism because there are some pretty obvious ones in it. I don’t know how much of my audience on this blog really cares about these factors, but at the moment I’m having trouble coming up with other things to say.
Why don’t you try reading it yourself and tell me what you think of it? For now I’m sticking with my original rating of