Book Reviews Lit Mag

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter.

A story of misery and love, The Scarlet Letter brings a new meaning to the word despair. Much of the book was spent on world building, with too many unnecessary details that made comprehension difficult. The lack of depth in the characters made the book a very boring read. The main protagonist, Hester Pryne, was an example of an anti hero gone wrong. She was supposed to be a woman who owned up to her sins and stood strongly against society, but Hawthorne failed to deliver in that regard and instead created a sniveling female lead that was pitying herself throughout the whole novel. The resentment she had for her child was at odds with her love, and I found this contrast jarring. The other characters were not much more memorable. The love interest, Dimmesdale, was a sickly frail man who had no sense of loyalty or honesty, making him one of the least enjoyed characters in the novel. His hypocrisy made him unenjoyable despite the attempts that Hawthorne made in order to make the reader sympathize with his situation. Roger Chillingworth, the ex husband of Hester, was a revenge driven fool whose one dimensional personality made him the most forgettable character of the series. The one redeeming quality of this book was the child Pearl, whose cute and impish nature paired with childlike innocence made me enjoy all the scenes in the novel with her. The plot twist at the end of the novel was an unwelcome and unnecessary ending to the already unpleasant novel, with multiple loose ends and questions that were left unanswered at the conclusion of the novel. Overall, I would not recommend this novel for those who enjoy decent literature.

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