Review on ‘the Scarlet letter’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne

I read this novel a few years ago as a friend had recommended it and I loved it that much I decided to write my A Level English coursework around it. It’s a classic novel that is definitely a part of my ‘must read’ list! It’s a romance novel with an historical twist as it is set in Puritan times, exploring elements of religion and the impact of this on beliefs within societies.

The main character, Hester Prynne is introduced through her punishment of public humiliation after an act of adultery that has resulted in the birth of a child by an unknown father. This, obviously, severely angers those in the town in which she lived, especially other women who appear to be jealous of how Hester remains calm and dignified throughout her punishment.

Hesters husbands, returning from overseas, becomes enraged at this discovery and vows to seek revenge against the man who has fathered the child. Hester keeps her secret and refuses to tell anyone who the father is. The novel follows her and her daughter’s lives as they become outcasts of the town and are branded as troublesome women. As the story progresses, it follows the theme of guilt and consciousness as the father of the child reveals himself.

The way in which Hawthorne explores how the actions of men and women have had effects upon both, more negatively upon women within society is really interesting when the context of the book is taken into consideration. Hester is the one that is shunned and she remains dignified throughout whereas her husband, Chillingworth, is the one who acts base and ungentlemanly.

An old fashioned Eastenders type story, this novel is full of drama and twists and turns but still has all the aspects of a classic piece of literature. I’d really recommend reading this, it’s an amazing piece of literature that is thought provoking and is full of symbolism.

Happy reading!

Meg x


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