Adultery! Sin! Condemnation! Self growth. These are the themes that Hawthorne so skillfully wove into this literary marvel.
Set in a Puritanic village rife with superstitious fears, we are immediately introduced to one Hester Prynne, a new mother weighed down by the consequence of a grievous act of weakness. She stands on the scaffold in the town square before the eyes of her fellow villagers, her bosom emblazoned with the brand of her sin …the letter A. But she will tell no one the name of her partner in crime, and a certain gnarled physician will doggedly seek to unearth it from her heart while ignoring the secrets he keeps himself. The result is a story riddled with such intense of a theme, (all G rated), that its conflict had me mulling over what is true and good weeks after I finished the story.
Surely the laws of Puritans were good, all Biblical based, set upon standards laid down by the Lord Almighty. But what these folks lacked is love. Hester is cast from society for her acts, and shunned forever more, treated as an outcast even with the return of self respect and good deeds. Her isolation becomes a crutch to shun God. She feels unworthy to partake in the forgiveness that Christ laid down for us in blood.
Alright, I’m stepping off the soap box, now. Anyhow, read the Scarlet Letter and let these matters settle on your own heart. Hawthorne did an excellent job portraying the intensity and customs of his own religion, mixing in with masterful touches bits of humor and vivid imagery. His characters are real–so real, I’m sure they’ll always stand out in your memory. They’ll always live in mine.