The Scarlet Letter

Adultery, betrayal, promiscuity, subterfuge, and
intrigue, all of which would make an excellent coming
attraction on the Hollywood scene and probably a pretty good
book. Add Puritan ideals and writing styles, making it
long, drawn out, tedious, wearisome, sleep inducing,
insipidly asinine, and the end result is The Scarlet Letter.
Despite all these things it is considered a classic and was
The Scarlet Letter is a wonderful and not so
traditional example of the good versus evil theme. What
makes this a unique instance of good versus evil is that
either side could be considered either one. Hester could
very easily have been deduced as evil, or the “bad guy,” as
she was by the townspeople. That is, she was convicted of
adultery, a horrible sin of the time, but maybe not even
seen as criminal today. As for punishment, a sentence to
wear a scarlet “A” upon her chest, it would hardly be
considered a burden or extreme sentence in present day. Or
Hester can be seen as rebelling against a society where she
was forced into a loveless marriage and hence she would
be the “good guy,” or girl, as the case may be. Also the
townspeople, the magistrates, and Chillingworth, Hester’s
true husband, can be seen in both lights. Either they can
be perceived as just upholding the law -she committed a
crime, they enforce the law. On the other hand are they
going to extreme measures such as wanting to take Pearl,
Hester’s daughter, away just because Hester has deviated
from the norm, all to enforce an unjust law that does not
Although the subjects of the novel do apply to
important issues in history and could have had influences on
the time period, they were not great. During the times and
in the Puritan community this did not have a large affect on
anything. Sure, they did not want anyone committing
adultery, most were killed if convicted, but it was not
something that upset their way of living in any permanent
manner. To an individual or group who was battling
something backward in the Puritan society, as were many
things, this would have been an inspirational book and
In short, this book could have been exceptional; it
had all the elements of a superb book. Unfortunately,
Hawthorne found himself a rather large thesaurus and added a
bunch of mindless prattle that mellowed out the high
points of the book and expanded on the low points. In many
chapters all he manages to accomplish is to update the lives
of characters, mostly with irrelevant drivel. Also by
expanding on the symbolism of the scarlet letter umpteenth
times he wears it out so that the reader wants nothing more
to do with a dumb “A” on some woman’s chest hundreds of
years ago. Other than that, great book.


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