The Scarlet Letter, Part 2: Thoughts on the Characters

As I mentioned yesterday, my reread of The Scarlet Letter left me with lots to think about. I was particularly fascinated by the contrasts between the main characters: Arthur Dimmesdale, Hester Prynne, and Roger Chillingworth. And then, of course, innocent Pearl’s symbolic role in the novel was the most interesting part of the moving story line. As I consider the three individuals examined under Hawthorne’s watchful eye, I’m struck by how different each person’s self-recognition was.

If you’ve read this novel, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts too on the characters, themes, and philosophic ideas.

Note that this post contains spoilers of The Scarlet Letter.

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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Preliminary Thoughts)

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s prose style in The Scarlet Letter (first published 1850) is not for everyone. I admit, I don’t recall being impressed with the novel when I was 15 or 16 and I read it for the first time. Further, this summer I began a reread (via audio) only to stall a few chapters from the end1.

But for the careful reader, Hawthorne’s prose is richly rewarding. On this read, I could not stop marveling at the gorgeous construction of Hawthorne’s sentences and the ways in which his plot were furthered through the complicated writing style.

Beyond the prose, Hawthorne’s story is complicated, deep, and intense. In just a few hundred pages and in a seemingly basic storyline, The Scarlet Letter deals with issues of love and relationships of different types; guilt and religious zeal; self and community; and shame and pride. Because I chose to reread The Scarlet Letter this month in honor of Jillian’s Transcendentalist Month, I was intrigued by the anti-transcendentalist concepts Hawthorne portrays here. There is so much packed in to a deceitfully simple story that I am at a loss where to begin.Continue Reading

  1. I also blame this on morning sickness and the general exhaustion from early pregnancy.

(Kids Corner) Some Cybils Books about … Finding A Place

Once I started thinking of categorizing some of the Cybils books as “Finding a Place,” I found that many pictures books seem to emphasize that. Although picture books don’t provide a cathartic bildungsroman arc of developing self-awareness that middle-grade or young adult books do, in many ways picture books do share the stories of the miniature epiphanies that come to children as they go through life. Below are some of the books that do so, roughly categorized for sanity’s sake.Continue Reading

The Giver Trilogy by Lois Lowry

I read Lois Lowry’s The Giver (1993, winner of the Newbery Medal 1994) when it was first published (I was a teenager), but the related books to it, Gathering Blue (2000) and Messenger (2004), were both written after my childhood days, so I hadn’t read them before. My book club recently decided to read Messenger, so I finally rectified that! I technically read them “out of order” then, reading Messenger before Gathering Blue. I enjoyed the latter two, but because I am no longer of the impressionable stage of life that I was in when I read the original, I didn’t love either of them as much as I have enjoyed The Giver.

Each of these books by Lois Lowry focus on a different type of dystopian community. Because there are some overlapping characters, it is called a “series,” but one technically does not need to read them in order because of the different settings of each story. I was fascinated to read these as an adult, with a little more perspective on the quite different dystopias Lowry focuses on.Continue Reading