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The Scarlet Letter (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

2647 Reviews

The Scarlet Letter (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
The Scarlet Letter (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
The Scarlet Letter (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
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The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

America’s first psychological novel, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a dark tale of love, crime, and revenge set in colonial New England. It revolves around a single, forbidden act of passion that forever alters the lives of three members of a small Puritan community: Hester Prynne, an ardent and fierce woman who bears the punishment of her sin in humble silence; the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, a respected public figure who is inwardly tormented by long-hidden guilt; and the malevolent Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s husband—a man who seethes with an Ahab-like lust for vengeance.

The landscape of this classic novel is uniquely American, but the themes it explores are universal—the nature of sin, guilt, and penitence, the clash between our private and public selves, and the spiritual and psychological cost of living outside society. Constructed with the elegance of a Greek tragedy, The Scarlet Letter brilliantly illuminates the truth that lies deep within the human heart.

Nancy Stade is trained as a lawyer and has worked in the federal government and the private sector. She currently lives in Mexico, where she is working on a novel.

The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars Biographies of the authors Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events Footnotes and endnotes Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work Comments by other famous authors Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations Bibliographies for further reading Indices & Glossaries, when appropriateAll editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.America’s first psychological novel, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a dark tale of love, crime, and revenge set in colonial New England. It revolves around a single, forbidden act of passion that forever alters the lives of three members of a small Puritan community: Hester Prynne, an ardent and fierce woman who bears the punishment of her sin in humble silence; the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, a respected public figure who is inwardly tormented by long-hidden guilt; and the malevolent Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s husband—a man who seethes with an Ahab-like lust for vengeance. The landscape of this classic novel is uniquely American, but the themes it explores are universal—the nature of sin, guilt, and penitence, the clash between our private and public selves, and the spiritual and psychological cost of living outside society. Constructed with the elegance of a Greek tragedy, The Scarlet Letter brilliantly illuminates the truth that lies deep within the human heart. Nancy Stade is trained as a lawyer and has worked in the federal government and the private sector. She currently lives in Mexico, where she is working on a novel.
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Product Details
Sales Rank:
121
Pages:
272
Publication Date:
12/25/2004
Series:
Barnes & Noble Classics Series
ISBN13:
9781593082079
Product Dimensions:
5.19(w) x 8.00(h) x0.68(d)
Publisher:
Barnes & Noble
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About the Author

One of the greatest authors in American literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was a novelist and short story writer born in Salem, Massachusetts. Hawthorne’s best-known books include The House of the Seven Gables and The Scarlet Letter, works marked by a psychological depth and moral insight seldom equaled by other writers.

Date of Birth:

July 4, 1804

Place of Birth:

Salem, Massachusetts

Education:

Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, 1824
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Read an Excerpt
From Nancy Stade's Introduction to The Scarlet Letter

Although the mark of Hester's crime is stitched in red across her breast, emblazoned in stigmata across the breast of her lover, and broadcast across the sky, Hawthorne never names her crime in The Scarlet Letter. The novel's title alludes to, but does not reveal, the letter A, which itself suggests, but does not divulge, the crime of adultery. By the time Roger Chillingworth, concealing his relationship to Hester when he wanders into the crowd during her exposure, inquires of a spectator "wherefore is she here set up to public shame," the two symbols of Hester's crime-The Scarlet Letter A and the baby Pearl-have all but revealed its nature. But The Scarlet Letter remains the fullest articulation of the crime, for Roger Chillingworth interrupts before the spectator has done more than insinuate the transgression that gives rise to the spectacle of public shame.

If The Scarlet Letter evokes Hester's crime without naming it, the novel tells almost nothing about Hester and Dimmesdale's affair. During the reverie that briefly distracts her from the hideous spectacle of which she is the center, Hester recalls in sequence her childhood home, her father and mother, her own youthful likeness, and the early days of her marriage, but in her remembrance she skips over the time from her adulterous encounter with Dimmesdale to her present circumstance, as she stands at the pillory. Possibly Hester and Dimmesdale consorted with initially innocent intentions after one of his sermons, although it is difficult to imagine Hester, even before her fall, as so devoted to Bible studies that she would seek or elicit her minister's private tutelage. Nothing in the novel, apart from what the reader can glean from the natures of Hester and Dimmesdale, permits the inference that the couple had an enduring affair, although nothing contradicts this possibility, either. But by the time the novel opens, and even more so by its close seven years later, the characters are so transformed that the reader can hardly draw informed conclusions about their earlier selves. Despite the novel's frequent references to Dimmesdale's repressed passion, a sexual encounter between Hester and him seems as remote from the events described in the novel as the Puritan penal system is from contemporary mores. In Studies in Classic American Literature (see "For Further Reading"), D. H. Lawrence assumed that Hester seduced Dimmesdale, an explanation that renders the act of adultery more plausible, but not any easier to imagine. Depriving his readers of the means of imagining the event that triggers Dimmesdale's unraveling, Chillingworth's vendetta, Pearl's birth, and Hester's disgrace seems to be a deliberate part of Hawthorne's artistic design.

The crime that gives the novel its name and preoccupies all of the characters, then, is shrouded as much by the symbolism that overshadows the thing symbolized as by the shame of the characters. Without an account of the criminal act, readers of The Scarlet Letter apprehend Hester's crime through the refracted light of multiple moral perspectives. In that he is Hester's creator, Hawthorne's view of Hester's crime is at least interesting, if not determinative of how readers of his day, or of ours, should respond. The narrator and the Puritan community both overtly pass judgment on Hester's act, although the former vacillates in the harshness with which he judges her. In addition, each of the three important adult characters-Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth, and Hester Prynne-present a particular response to Hester's adultery that may inform our own. The fourth important character, Pearl, though a child and only intuitively aware of the crime, offers an additional perspective as well as a real challenge to a response of unmediated censure, for if the Puritans cannot qualify their judgment of Hester's crime, they cannot acknowledge what Hester calls its "consecration." Though the perspectives of Hawthorne, the novel's narrator, the community, and each of the novel's four main characters say more about these individuals and their Puritan society than about adultery, each perspective contributes to the reader's multidimensional experience of the novel's central, unmentionable event.

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Customer Reviews (2647)
A is for Art
The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne is the first masterwork of literature in American letters as well as one of the very few novels that rise above literary craft to high art. Hester Prynne and much of the framework of the story is modeled on Anne Hutchinson who in 1638 was imprisoned and then banished from Boston for being Antinomian, (anti-law), her belief being that love and personal religious experience were greater than the elderly Puritan authority. Hawthorne describes the rosebush by the prison door as springing up under the footsteps of the sainted Ann Hutchinson. Hester and Anne have several parallels, the dignified manner of facing their trials, rumors that each had a child by the devil, strong relationship and betrayal by a well respected Puritan clergyman, defiance of Puritan elders, punishments of prison and banishment, and both were advisors to other women. Hawthorne takes the A of Antinomian and makes it the A of adultrey because he wants to shine a brilliant spotlight on the workings of the human heart in the course of the narrative. Witchcraft plays a role in the Scarlet Letter. John Hathorne an ancestor of the author was one of the judges at the infamous Salem witch trials where most of the condemned and executed were women. Govenor Bellingham's sister Mistress Hibbins, an historical figure later hanged for witchcraft, believes herself to be a witch in this novel. Many believe Hester's child Pearl to be fathered by the devil and that Hester's A glows red in the dark. Hester tells Pearl she met the blackman in the forest once and that the A is his mark. Chillingworth ,Hesters elderly husband, practices alchemy or something close to it and his heart is darkened the most of the players in this tale. As Dimmesdale stands on the scaffold at night he sees a display of lights in the sky and it looks to him like a giant A marked out in lines of dull red light for his adultrey. Dimmesdale cares more for his ambition than for Hester and Pearl. The Puritans think him saintly and the truth gnaws away at him and weakens him. Hawthorne tells us at one point to 'Be True Be True' meaning genuine, real, to show and be yourself warts and all. As in Hester's great art with her needle Hawthorne has crafted great art with this masterpiece. Some have confused the heralds description of what was on the tombstone thinking the words were on the stone. Only the red A on a black background is on the stone. The Heralds description is 'On a field, sable, the letter A, gules'. Gules is a heraldic word that also has a root meaning flowers, so a rendering of this in plain english would be: On a background, black, the letter A, blooms red.
- Guest
August 2, 2003
Daybreak to Minideath
Hmmm...*points his rapier at his core* Truth..or else.
- Anonymous
September 22, 2012
Morg
Um hello anyone gonna b sick today becuz im not going to skool
- Anonymous
November 9, 2012
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