The Scarlet Letter was required reading for my 9th grade honors English class. I was 14. I hated it. What were those teachers thinking trying to make 9th graders read the proper “Olde English” style writing of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
I thought this novel deserved another shot by my 25 year old brain and this time, it worked out a lot better.
What blows my mind is how completely ostracized Hester was for having an affair. Imagine if that were still true today. I’m not saying that an affiar is completely normal or alright by today’s standards, but wer sure do look at things differently now. However, I love how Hester grows throughout the novel and becomes a strong, confident woman despite her circumstances. GIRL POWER RIGHT??! (kidding)
As always, quotes I loved:
In either case, there was very much the same solemnity of demeanor on the part of the spectators; as befitted a people amongst whom religion and law were almost identical, and in whose character both were so thoroughly interfused, that the mildest and severest acts of public discipline were alike made venerable and awful.
In our nature, however, there is a provision, alike marvelous and merciful, that the sufferer should never know the intensity of what he ensures by its present torture, but chiefly by the pang that rankles after it.
Lonely as was Hester’s situation, and without a friend on earth who dared to show himself, she, however, incurred no risk of want.
The heart, making itself guilty of such secrets, must perforce hold them, until the day when all hidden things shall be revealed.
These revelations are meant to promote the intellectual satisfaction of all intelligent beings, who will stand waiting, on that day, to see the dark problem of this life made plain.
A knowledge of men’s hearts will be needful to the completest solution of that problem. So to their own unutterable torment, they go about amount their fellow creatures, looking pure as new fallen snow while their hearts are all speckled and spotted with iniquity of which they cannot rid themselves.
It is remarkable that persons who speculate the most boldly often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulations of society.
As a man who had once sinned, but who kept his conscience all alive and painfully sensitive by the fretting of an unhealed wound, he might have been supposed safer within the line of virtue than of he had never sinned at all.
Love, whether newly born, or aroused from a deathlike slumber, must always create a sunshine, filling the heart so full of radiance, that it overflows upon the outward world.
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.
—-and the kicker—–
It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom. Each, in its utmost development, supposes a high degree of intimacy and heart knowledge; each renders one individual dependent for the food of his affection and spiritual life upon another; Each leaves the passionate lover, or the no less passionate hater, forlorn and desolate by the withdrawal of his subject.
What an absolutely brilliant writer (just make sire you are reading in a very quiet place with no distractions or you will not be able to focus on his writing style. )