The Scarlet Letter
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The Scarlet Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Literature
Aug 24, 2018
The story, at least in outline, is probably familiar. Its setting is seventeenth-century Boston, during the Puritan era. Hester Prynne wears the scarlet “A” that marks her as an adulteress. While she thus pays openly for her sin, the “godly” Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale endures the torments of a guilty conscience: His identity as Hester’s lover and the father of her child, Pearl, remains secret. Hester’s own sensibility, streaked with independence, nourishes an inner life that grows strong enough to lift the veil of guilt others have imposed upon it. She embodies a presence and purpose that make her one of the most vivid heroines in American literature (and a fitting counterpart to her fictional contemporaries Catherine Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, who startled English fiction about the same time as Hester appeared in print). The rich and evolving psychology with which Hawthorne imbues Hester exposes the Puritan dichotomy of good and evil as too simple to engage the real equations of human feeling that add up to a life.
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The horror of the Handmaid's Tale and a story of mis-judgement in a world that is so much like the one we live in right now.
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A classic.
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