Analysis Of The Book ' The Scarlet Letter '

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Reading ' 'The Scarlet Letter ' ' again, I imagine Hester Prynne as she steps out of the Boston jail. She carries her out-of-wedlock baby in her arms but does not hide the ' 'A ' ' she wears on her breast. Her crime, though it will never be named in the book by more than an initial, is placed on exhibition. Yet she has converted the letter into her own statement by fantastic flourishes of gold embroidery. She is a mystery beyond the reach not only of her fellow Bostonians but also of the reader. To the end of her story she will be someone whose final meaning is as obscure as her reasons for blazoning the letter so that it looks like a badge of honor while it reinforces her condemnation.

Hester has been coming before us this way since ' 'The Scarlet Letter ' ' was published 150 years ago, and the book that made Hawthorne famous has remained our most unchallenged classic, an American novel about the American past. Its newest readers turn to the Internet for help in writing the assigned paper, and there is plenty to download -- bibliographies and potted criticism, online hypertext that highlights the hard words and references for access to explanations. There is even a site titled ' 'How to Get an 'A ' on Your Scarlet Letter Assignment, ' ' which, fortunately, advises only, ' 'Read the book! ' ' Teenagers sometimes find this reading boring, sometimes thrilling, and are not quite sure what it adds up to. The punishment inflicted upon an unmarried mother seems excessive.
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