The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Review #7)

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne


Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, Massachusetts, during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair and will not reveal her lover’s identity. The scarlet letter A (for adultery) she has to wear on her clothes, along with her public shaming, is her punishment for her sin and her secrecy. She struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.


I have wanted to read this book since it was mentioned in an episode of Downton Abbey and the Dowager thought the book sounded most unsuitable. It is also one of the books on my Classics Club list. 

I will be honest I almost lost the will to live with this book. The introductory chapter of this book is a lengthy chapter about the author and his life in the Customs office and I must admit I found it extremely dull. I was determined to carry on because the main story had not started yet but I will be honest I almost gave up with the book there and then. 

The storyline of this book is great but sadly Hawthorne could not have written it in a more boring and long winded way. I found that Hawthorne is quite similar to Washington Irving in his writing style and I will be honest I also struggle with Irving. Basically something that could be said in 500 words they insist on using 5000 and I just find myself shouting at the author ‘why? Get to the point!’. 

Hester Prynne is a wonderful character who is thoroughly wronged but because of the time and the place she lives in she is the one who is held up to blame and judged. After Hester’s disgrace she forms a life for herself living in repentance and trying to be the best Christian she can be and because of this people start to accept her again. 

I had to really think about my rating of this book because I just could not get on with Hawthorne’s writing style. I almost gave it a lot lower rating but I reconsidered because I really enjoyed the storyline and the character Hester. Overall, I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons but I will definitely say it won’t be a book that I read again.


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About the author

Nathaniel Hawthorne was a 19th century American novelist and short story writer. He is seen as a key figure in the development of American literature for his tales of the nation’s colonial history.

Shortly after graduating from Bowdoin College, Hathorne changed his name to Hawthorne. Hawthorne anonymously published his first work, a novel titled Fanshawe, in 1828. In 1837, he published Twice-Told Tales and became engaged to painter and illustrator Sophia Peabody the next year. He worked at a Custom House and joined a Transcendentalist Utopian community, before marrying Peabody in 1842. The couple moved to The Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts, later moving to Salem, the Berkshires, then to The Wayside in Concord. The Scarlet Letter was published in 1850, followed by a succession of other novels. A political appointment took Hawthorne and family to Europe before returning to The Wayside in 1860. Hawthorne died on May 19, 1864, leaving behind his wife and their three children.

Much of Hawthorne’s writing centers around New England and many feature moral allegories with a Puritan inspiration. His work is considered part of the Romantic movement and includes novels, short stories, and a biography of his friend, the United States President Franklin Pierce.



6 thoughts on “The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Review #7)

  1. I think I wrote something similar haha but if they simply confronted each other and called it a day or had a duel like civilized folk, it would only be a novelette 😂

    Liked by 1 person

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