I decided to read The Scarlet Letter a few months ago. Because it seemed important to me to also read classics in English, not just for classes, but for me. So I decided to tackle one of the most basic ones in American culture, among them, The Scarlet Letter.
I know that most of the people in the United States read in a while in high school, and I just wanted to see what Americans studied while I had to read Balzac and Voltaire.
We dream in our waking moments, and walk in our sleep.
Set in the harsh Puritan community of seventeenth-century Boston. This story of an adulterous entanglement that in an illegitimate birth reveals Nathaniel Hawthorne’s concerns with the tension between the public and the private selves. Publicly disgraced and ostracized, Hester Prynne draws on her inner strength and certainty of spirit to emerge as the first true heroine of American fiction. Arthur Dimmesdale, trapped by the rules of society, stands as a classic study of a self divided.
I didn’t like the story and the way it was written. And I’d have to say that the only thing that I loved in the book in Hester Prynne. At the same time, Arthur Dimmesdale wasn’t a character that stood out for me. He was weak and mostly relied on Hester to do the right thing while he could have done it all along on his own. All it took was strength, both mental and physical.
Hester was a character that I loved! Because she learned how to be herself. How to be strong despite, or because of, the way she was treated by society and those rigid rules. All she did was being true to herself. Faithful to her condition as a human being. And that caused her to become pregnant and then ostracized of her community.
Hester grew throughout the book because she had no choice. She had to become the strong woman that she knew she could be because of this child. It was the one thing that undid her as a pure and wholesome puritan woman that transformed her into a free and strong human being.
I also loved the character of Pearl, Hester’s child. Because she shows that even though puritanism is supposed to lead to a happier life in Paradise, being true to yourself and being able to do what you want is what makes you happy in this life, the only life we might have. Pearl is a character that grew up on the margins of a community, all of her own. And that is something that should have disturbed her. But on the contrary, it made her healthier and happier than she could ever have been in the puritan community of Boston.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys classics. It’s not a book that I highly enjoyed, but the characters are more complex than they seem to be. And that makes it worth the read.