Monday, November 10, 2014

Classics Club: The Scarlet Letter

I may or may not have put this on my Classics Club list because I knew I had to read it for school... *sheepish grin*
Yeah, Hester's kinda creepy up close...

Anyway, I can see how people dislike this book, especially if you don't agree with it's theme about the consequences of sin. I tried to find it in my heart to give it 4 stars, but I had to give it 3. Maybe 3.25. It's not a bad book, but it's heavy. The ending and it's message are powerful, and the characters are well-developed, but it was missing that "thing" most of the time.

A lot of people know what this book is about, generally. So here is my very short synopsis:
Hester has committed a terrible sin. For punishment, she is forced to wear a scarlet letter. She refuses to give the name of her partner in crime, who is miserable in turn. To add to all this, someone is out to avenge himself. This story teaches that all sin has consequences, and your sin will find you out.
That sounded almost exciting, right? Well, it's okay. There are exciting parts, but most of it is description, philosophy, characterization, and so on. There's actually not much plot, making this a very character-driven novel. (Not that that's a bad thing!) Parts of this book are a little boring, but occasionally you come across a truly amazing statement:
It is to the credit of human nature, that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates. Hatred, by a gradual and quiet process, will even be transformed to love, unless the change be impeded by a continually new irritation of the original feeling of hostility.
My motto with Nathaniel Hawthorne is : He's either really captivating, or really boring. Because sometimes, he's amazing! Almost on a Dickens level! But other times, he puts me to sleep.

Now the characters, since this was a very character-driven novel:

I have to write a character analysis of Hester. I wanted to sympathize with her, I really did. But she was still stubborn and unrepentant. "The scarlet letter had not done its office."

Roger Chillingworth was awful!! I occasionally like reading revenge stories, The Count of Monte Cristo for instance, but this was a story that showed the dark side of revenge, how it can eat up a man and turn him into a devil.

Pearl was, lets just say I didn't know what to think of her. No child I know has acted remotely like her. She was heart-breaking and enchanting at the same time.

And Dimmesdale, he was so tortured. It was so sad. He didn't have the courage to confess to man, nor the faith to confess to God. He is a lesson to all of us about hypocrisy and hiding our sin.
Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred!
Is Pearl wearing pants?!?
You really had to think to enjoy this book; that's not a bad thing either! (I probably should have thought more while I read it...) I would read it again, but not in the near future. There were a few chapters that nothing really happened in, actually about a half of the chapters were description. Most of the time that was okay, but sometimes I was like "Seriously! I don't care what the people looked like when they were in town. Get to the good stuff!" (Relative term, I know)

This review may make this book sound really bad, but it's not. It's full of great values and lessons, but sometimes it's a little hard to get into. However, I promise you, by the climax, you won't be able to put it down.

Is there a book you read that was missing that "thing"?
What is that "thing" for you?

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