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Extended Audio Sample The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (270,552 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne Narrator: Shelly Frasier Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2008 ISBN: 9781400178551
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"The Scarlet Letter" is a 19th-century romance novel written by the great American author Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Set in the restrictive New England Puritan society of Salem and Boston, Massachusetts, the novel starts out with a lengthy chapter describing how the book came about. A narrator describes how he found a certain piece of cloth, finely embroidered in gold with the letter "A." The listener will discover that the letter was a mark of disgrace and punishment for one woman who had been accused of adultery at a previous time.

The story of Hester Prynne and the scarlet letter she was forced to wear doesn't begin until after this initial chapter, which Hawthorne labels as the "Preamble."

Early in the novel, Hester Prynne and her infant daughter, Pearl, appear as they are led from the town prison and subjected to ridicule and punishment by the townspeople.

Hester has borne Pearl out of wedlock, and the town wants to know the father of the child, since Hester's husband was thought to have been previously lost at sea. The remainder of the story is an examination of Hester, her story, the two men in her life and an examination into the nature of sin itself.

Insightful readers and listeners will discover that the novel is a deep examination of Boston society and Puritan hypocrisy of that time as well as the people within Hester's community.

Who comes out on top, and whether there is any hope of retribution and eventual salvation is a question the listener must reserve for the novel.

Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1804. It is interesting to note that one of his ancestors, John Hathorne, had served as one of the judges at the infamous Salem Witch Trials in 1692. To remind himself of his family's part in that part of American history, Hawthorne added the "w" to his name, which served as a reminder of his familial connection to witchcraft.

Hawthorne attended Bowdoin College in Maine, where he met Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He became interested in Transcendentalism as an outgrowth of his friendships with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller.

Among Hawthorne's works are: "The Blithedale Romance," "The Marble Faun," "The House of the Seven Gables" and numerous short stories.

He is regarded as one of the greats in early American literature. Herman Melville, of "Moby Dick" fame, dubbed him the "American Shakespeare". Hawthorne died in May, 1864 at his home in Concord, Massachusetts.

It is 1642 in the Puritan town of Boston. Hester Prynne has been found guilty of adultery and has borne an illegitimate child. In lieu of being put to death, she is condemned to wear the scarlet letter A on her dress as a reminder of her shameful act. 

Hester’s husband had been lost at sea years earlier and was presumed dead, but he reappears in time to witness Hester’s humiliation on the town scaffold. Upon discovering her deed, the vengeful husband becomes obsessed with finding the identity of the man who dishonored his wife. To do so he assumes a false name, pretends to be a physician, and forces Hester to keep his new identity secret. Meanwhile, Hester’s lover, the beloved Reverend Dimmesdale, publicly pressures her to name the child’s father while secretly praying that she will not. Hester defiantly protects his identity and reputation, even when faced with losing her daughter, Pearl. 

Hailed by Henry James as “the finest piece of imaginative writing yet put forth in the country,” Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a masterful portrayal of humanity’s continuing struggle with sin, guilt, and pride.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Nathaniel Hawthorne] recaptured, for his New England, the essence of Greek tragedy.”

    Malcolm Cowley

  • The Scarlet Letter isn’t a pleasant, pretty romance. It is a sort of parable, an earthly story with a hellish meaning.”

    D. H. Lawrence

  • “Considered a masterpiece of American literature and a classic moral study.”

    Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

  • “The finest piece of imaginative writing yet put forth in the country.”

    Henry James

  • combines the strength and substance of an oak with the subtle organization of a rose, and is great, not of malice aforethought, but inevitably. It goes to the root of the matter, and reaches some unconventional conclusions, which, however, would scarce be apprehended by one reader in twenty. For the external or literal significance of the story, though in strict correspondence with the spirit, conceals that spirit from the literal eye. The reader may choose his depth according to his inches but only a tall man will touch the bottom…very story may be viewed under two aspects: as the logical evolution of a conclusion from a premise, and as something colored and modified by the personal qualities of the author. If the latter have genius, his share in the product is comparable to nature's in a work of human art,—giving it everything except abstract form… A gloomy and energetic religious sect, pioneers in a virgin land, with the wolf and the Indian at their doors, but with memories of England in their hearts and English traditions and prejudices in their minds; weak in numbers, but strong in spirit; with no cultivation save that of the Bible and the sword; victims, moreover of a dark and bloody superstition,—such a people and scene give admirable relief and color to a tale of human frailty and sorrow.  Amidst such surroundings, then, the figure of a woman stands, with the scarlet letter on her bosom… But a writer who works with deep insight and truthful purpose can never be guilty of a lack of decency. Indecency is a creation, not of God or of nature, but of the indecent.whoever takes it for granted that indecency is necessarily involved in telling the story of an illicit passion has studied human nature and good literature to poor purpose.

    Atlantic (an excerpt from the review)

  • “A gloomy and energetic religious sect, pioneers in a virgin land…with memories of England in their hearts and English traditions and prejudices in their minds; weak in numbers, but strong in spirit; with no cultivation save that of the Bible and the sword…Such a people and scene give admirable relief and color to a tale of human frailty and sorrow.”

    Atlantic

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pamela | 2/20/2014

    " A satisfying re-reading. This time around (my 3rd or 4th) I recognized more than before what a very strange book this is. It's realism with an extremely strong undertow of the supernatural--perhaps that is what is meant by "a romance," Hawthorne's label for The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne has here invented or found a great array of symbols and signs (Hester's letter, her daughter Pearl, sunshine and shade, the forest, the scaffold, a rosebush, a brook) that carry an uncanny, frightening charge. As a writer, I was fascinated by the fact that the novel is almost entirely summary and exposition and abstraction--and yet it is so humanly moving. My edition had a number of Hawthorne's more famous short stories, such as "Young Goodman Brown" and "The Minister's Black Veil," included, which extended the experience very nicely. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Celeste | 2/18/2014

    " A struggle for me to get through. Excellent sleep aid, though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jamie | 2/18/2014

    " Omg I hated this book, but what a masterpiece. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Miller | 2/18/2014

    " This was very good, but I just found it a little difficult to read. But, a true classic. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ryan Dunlap | 2/17/2014

    " What is there to say about The Scarlet Letter? Well first off Nathaniel Hawthorne is a hard author to read if you like things to be straight to the point. After getting through the first chapter you want to smack Nathaniel upside the head with the book and say was it really necessary to use half a page to describe the color of the room? Yes, I realize that everything is put into a book for a reason, but after a while you stop caring and just want to know about Hester's scarlet letter. Sometimes blue drapes can just be blue drapes Nathaniel. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sherry | 2/17/2014

    " This book was pretty bad. Maybe I didn't like it because our teacher made us read and annotate the whole book in, like, 2 weeks. Worst experience ever. I had to stay up until 4 in the morning to annotate and finish. Not to mention I didn't have time to do my AP Calc BC, AP Chem, and APUSH homework. Oh, and I only got an A- on my annotations... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Derek Stewart | 2/16/2014

    " I did not think highly of this book. It presented the main conflicts of the story to early.In doing so the book maily relied on in depth descriptions of scenery and characters' personalities. All though set to be a dark romance i did not believe it was interesting enough to maintain anyones attention for long periods of time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aurora Cunningham | 2/15/2014

    " I liked the story line of the story, but the way that it was written sucked. It was hard to understand because we don't talk that way anymore. It was much easier to read in the modern text. Other than that, it wasn't that bad of a book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracy Mcdowell | 2/13/2014

    " Pearl is one of my favorite charters I have ever read, but the stories flow was choppy and unenjoyable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Madison | 2/12/2014

    " Loved this. I did an indepth look in my AP Lang class which opened resolved a lot of confusion. Once you conquer the symbolism, you're good. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sharon | 2/12/2014

    " What can I say? I don't enjoy classics. And everyone seemed to die or fade away at the end, I didn't feel like there was any sort of happy resolution or acceptance. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gzchealsea | 2/11/2014

    " I really did not like this book you would think that this would be a really good book because the plot sounds so intresting. This book is so boring I don't understand how the author could come up with such an intresting story but make it so boring. I definetly don't recomend this book to anyone. Let me be the one to save you the trouble of reading one of the most boringest books I ever read. DON'T READ "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chandan Saini | 2/9/2014

    " Next year's curriculum should incorporate this book because the book contains many themes, rhetorical devices, and ways of analyzing. Students can find various methods to analyze a particular theme in the book. Furthermore, this allows a student to write an excellent essay. Basically, the book is a viable mean to express your thoughts. Finally, the overall book is interesting in itself, but certain parts of it can be quite bland. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amber Ryczek | 2/8/2014

    " This book seems to me for religious sort. It seems to be there to show how everyone sins and no matter how hard you try, the sin is always there. You will never escape it no matter how long you suffer. It also shows how from the 'bad' there is good that can still come out of it for others. So its like Hester and the Rev. were spending their lives in sorrow n good deeds til they die and maybe they will be forgiven by god. It didnt like how they didnt seem to evee have peace. They were in deep love and instead of being happy, they were not allowed for the 'sin' they did. I can see how it may have been loved back in the 1800s but not my kind of book. the author also had a lot of deeo details on a person everytime they came into a chapter. Overall, I see the great hisoric value but I wont read again. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Steve | 2/8/2014

    " Again, probably would have liked this book if I had not been in 8th grade and had it forced on me. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tori Fry | 2/8/2014

    " Puritans are boring even when there are lies, cheating, and sex. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Adam | 2/6/2014

    " Story about an adultress.. dated language and somewhat tame compared to todays sultry romances.. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Michael Lee | 2/4/2014

    " maybe it was because i was forced to read this in HS, or it is not my preferred genre, but it was painful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 2/3/2014

    " This is a reread from years ago. I always feel bad for people in societies that don't have the whole truth and are forced to suffer because of a lack of understanding. The contrast between Hester and Dimsdale is well done. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nikki | 2/3/2014

    " Ticks me off. They were SO stupid back then. I prefer modern day literature. Only good thing about this book was that it was semi-entertaining when I was bored. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Brit | 2/2/2014

    " Proof that people will always be hypocritical and judgemental. Not my favorite book. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Evan | 2/2/2014

    " Well thank you for asking what i think about this book. No one should ever be subjected to read this or ever want to read this. It wouldnt be completely horrible if i could understand what is happening but i can not even understand the vocabulary and sentence structure. This gets one star in my book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rosemond Cates | 2/2/2014

    " One of my all time favorites! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karen Hunt | 2/1/2014

    " Interesting book written in 1850, but set in Puritan USA. About a woman who has to wear an A because she had a child out of wedlock. There are a couple of lines where Hester Prynne refers to a time where there may be equality between men and women, so it has been seen as something of a feminist text (even though there really are only a couple of these lines). Not riveting, but an interesting enough read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mark Glidden | 1/30/2014

    " A thought-provoking look at religious and social life (if indeed they could be separated) in early Puritan colonial America. What seems to be a morality play cleverly frames an insightful look at various theological themes, such as guilt, sin, mercy and revenge. Perhaps more relevant now in a world turning back towards fundamentalist Christianity than ever before, "The Scarlet Letter" serves as a tale, ultimately, about the heavy burden that can be imposed upon an individual's life and soul if religion is separated from conscience and mercy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nora | 1/30/2014

    " I have read this book several times, and every time I do I am angered by the duality of it all! But I guess that's really the point. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Star Shyne Brite (Stargirl) | 1/30/2014

    " this was really well written and interesting. Pearl is a creepy child but I rwally liked the book "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Harris Wypyszinski | 1/29/2014

    " pretty enjoyable... was ok good classic book "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cassi Deluca | 1/28/2014

    " I did not really like The Scarlet Letter because it was very confusing throughout the book. The whole story seemed to drag along and included words I did not really understand. During the book I would tend to drift off because it was kind of a bored to me. I did however liked the use of imagery in the book, it was very detailed which did help with understanding the book more. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeanne | 1/27/2014

    " When I started rereading this with one of my classes, I hadn't realized I was in for a surprise. I haven't read this book in (you fill in the blank) years....since I was in high school. I loved Hawthorne then and went on to read The House of the Seven Gables. Some books that I reread after (you fill in the blank) years I don't enjoy quite as much. I had forgotten how much I love the story, his language and the courage of Hester Prynne. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Italomerante | 1/26/2014

    " I thought that this book was very well written. It had a lot of symbolism and imagery. However, this intense description lead to me being bored at times. The end of the book was easily my favorite part. I liked the irony of how Dimmesdale was really the father the whole time, but I thought it got boring as they talked about how he was beating himself up so much for his sin. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joelle Gallaway | 1/26/2014

    " The Scarlet Letter, overall, was a pretty good book. Nathaniel Hawthornes dark romatic style was slightly depressing. Although I did enjoy his detailed imagery throughout the novel, some of the words and sentence structers were difficult to comprehend. All in all, The Scarlet Letter had a very good story line and plot, however, it was a difficult read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 R.L. Anderson | 1/26/2014

    " I had to read this in high school English class. I found it extremely boring; however, having read it helped me to understand our state's law requiring repeat offender drunk drivers to have orange license plates on their cars. The idea, I have read, was actually inspired by this book, a kind of way to "shame" offenders by making their crimes known to the world. Good idea! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nata | 1/22/2014

    " There is not much of anything in he Scarlet Letter. As far as the plot goes, Hester's partner in crime is obvious from the beginning. However, there are some interesting aspects concerning sin and morality in this novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Billy | 1/21/2014

    " Good book but the author is to wordy for me; one can skip several pages and Hawthorne would be still talking about the same thing. He has several good themes that I liked such as how revenge will corrupt you. His style is dark romantic and maybe if one likes romantic novels this would be a good book but I am really one for action and adventure so this book wasn't my favorite. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cody R Ruffing | 1/21/2014

    " Nathaniel Hawthorne writes with fantastic darkness that draws the reader into the setting and mood of the novel. His use of imagery and symbols make the book more than just a story to read. Through his writing he creates a piece of literature that intrigues the reader to analyze each word and interpret each meaning. Hawthorne's old writing style also takes the reader back and makes it all the more difficult to completely digest and break down the book making the reader try harder more interested. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Daniel | 1/21/2014

    " Great message. I had to read it again to really get it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emma | 1/19/2014

    " It wasn't as bad as I thought surprisingly. Maybe it's because my professor was really into it, her enthusiasm just rubbed off on me. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lauren | 1/18/2014

    " Ugh. If I could scrub that little beast of a child out of my mind, I would. We basically listened to the audio version in high school, and it was narrated by what sounded like an elderly woman who acted in one too many plays. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christina | 1/16/2014

    " Interesting social commentary. I like Hester's character. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kavan | 1/16/2014

    " I did not like the author's writing style. Throughout the book he gets off topic on the current situation and sidetracks too much on the past and gets carried away with symbolism and imagery. I know imagery adds detail to the book, however, I found all of it to take away from the reading experience. If the book was more straightforward and ruled by logic and reason, I would've probably liked the book. I also know the book took place in early colonial times, but I found the puritan community to be hypocritical and delusional with their beliefs. I do not have a problem with their religious belief, but I do have issues with their religious smugness that they are superior and everyone different or made a mistake is below them. This book focused way too much on spiritual consequences and talks little about logic and reality. Instead the book goes into inprobable possibilities such as divine/devil intervention instead of facts and actuality. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marlene | 1/16/2014

    " The poetic justice in this book never fails to "get" me. I can't remember how many times I've read this book and still find more little tidbits to think about. Drives me crazy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Reina Schoch | 1/16/2014

    " Read this while in high school. I can't remember which year. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ryan Greanias | 1/16/2014

    " very vivid storyline. I enjoyed how Hawthorne never came out and said anything, he let the reader figure things out. although, it was a bit of a tough read. keep a dictionary on hand "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Suzi | 1/15/2014

    " This book never gets boring and never gets old. Ignoring the Introduction which is an incredibly self indulgent piece of impenetrable writing the actual story is brilliant. Hester is an outcast to inspire us all as she remains strong, devoted and faithful despite the harsh treatment of the puritans. I just love this book and having just finished it for the third time I continue to love it more and more. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lia Angelini | 1/14/2014

    " This is my absolute favorite classic. Seriously. The angst...the love affair... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Matt Lozada | 1/14/2014

    " Definitely a classic that everyone should read to understand references in both pop culture and religion. Unfortunately, this is the only exposure most Americans get to Puritan society. "The Scarlet Letter" is more of a caricaturization of colonial Christianity to the point that the term "Puritanic" has come to be understood as "strict, rigid, and legalistic" by today's language. This should be read with some careful scrutiny. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mecca | 1/13/2014

    " This is a good story; however, it is stylistically out of date. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mewmew9 | 1/11/2014

    " The pace was too slow for my liking. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ryan Greanias | 1/11/2014

    " very vivid storyline. I enjoyed how Hawthorne never came out and said anything, he let the reader figure things out. although, it was a bit of a tough read. keep a dictionary on hand "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lachelle Redd | 1/7/2014

    " I read this story in college. At first, it drove me insane trying to understand just what the big deal was. I don't think I could have kept such a secret especially with the backlash that the woman goes through. Then I realize it's about being who you are no matter what people think. You survive and go the course. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dorothy | 1/4/2014

    " I read this book in high school. It was part of a reading assignment. I just knew it would be so boring. I was so surprised that I was so captivated by the story. I loved to read before, but after that book I realized my love for books. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Grace | 1/4/2014

    " I didn't understand this book until close to the end "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Miller | 1/4/2014

    " This was very good, but I just found it a little difficult to read. But, a true classic. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Hadeel | 1/3/2014

    " It was wierd book, but I liked it. There are things, especially regarding that tortured idiot DImmesdale and the secret cunning of Roger CHillingworth relationship that was amusing, but overall it was alright... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Richelle | 1/2/2014

    " A great classic! Many hidden meanings that I could uncover with my Socratic class! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Makeda | 12/31/2013

    " This is a book that I read for a class. I've read it before, but like most books new things appear as you read them in different points of life. It has many layers of meaning and although I don't agree with certain things in the book it was a good read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ali | 12/30/2013

    " This is barely worth reading even to say "I read it." If you can get through The Custom House (the first forty pages) without falling asleep, then Bravo. It doesn't get much more interesting from there. I'm all about classics, but save your energy on this one. So many better classics to spend your time on. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 12/28/2013

    " This is a reread from years ago. I always feel bad for people in societies that don't have the whole truth and are forced to suffer because of a lack of understanding. The contrast between Hester and Dimsdale is well done. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dee Crabtree | 12/27/2013

    " I read this in high school (like most of us did) and then again last summer. It's a classic worth revisiting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Edelweiss | 12/27/2013

    " The book was pretty good, but I dislike the cover. Hester looks like "Weird" Al. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 12/23/2013

    " required to read in high school but i fell in love with it in many ways i can relate. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sonia | 12/20/2013

    " An all time favorite. Love the writing style. Love the story (in a sad/depressing sort of way). Love the depth of the characters. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 R.k.m | 12/18/2013

    " Highly confusing and riddled with needless symbolism. The first half of this book is not very entertaining but the second half is pretty decent, but it doesn't save this book from being more than 2 stars. It takes far too long to get into. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie Semack | 12/17/2013

    " So far, I like this book. Don't love it, but I like it. It's set in an older time, so the style of writing and scenarios are a bit dated, but I like it nonetheless. Hester Prynne is likeable even though she committed some "horrible crime". I like how it's told from an outside perspective, so the reader gets background and more out of this particular story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Colleen Moser | 12/16/2013

    " Read this in high school of course, but re-read this about a year ago. Loved it all over again. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Brocha | 12/11/2013

    " O yay! Vindication! I HATED having to read and write about this book as a kid. Now, skimming thru all the negative (adult) reviews, I understand why! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liz Gibbs | 12/11/2013

    " This was such a bizarre book. Hawthorne is so wordy I could hardly stand it. However, once I got into the plot I did sort of enjoy it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Hannah Crossett | 12/10/2013

    " I am not a fan of this book, but we had to read it for high school and I learned from this book. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Nolena | 12/10/2013

    " I don't like this book. It is sad, very unfair and all of the above in terrible story. It may be a classic and a great love story but, i could not despise it anymore than i do now. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Colleen Moser | 12/9/2013

    " Read this in high school of course, but re-read this about a year ago. Loved it all over again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie Semack | 12/9/2013

    " So far, I like this book. Don't love it, but I like it. It's set in an older time, so the style of writing and scenarios are a bit dated, but I like it nonetheless. Hester Prynne is likeable even though she committed some "horrible crime". I like how it's told from an outside perspective, so the reader gets background and more out of this particular story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rg | 12/8/2013

    " Did I hate this book or did I hate this book? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 12/7/2013

    " I finally did my 9th grade homework assignment and I loved it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sonia | 12/7/2013

    " An all time favorite. Love the writing style. Love the story (in a sad/depressing sort of way). Love the depth of the characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Swetha Dhanagari | 12/7/2013

    " Words in book seemed like I am reading poetry. Good classic "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Cynthia | 12/5/2013

    " Keep trying to convince me to like this book. I hated it, utterly. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Julie | 12/5/2013

    " Despite the fact that I've dressed up as Hester Prynne for two separate Halloweens, I didn't care for this book very much. I think my aversion to it wasn't that it was badly written. I just didn't care for the people in the story, and I have to care about the characters to want to read it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Earl John | 12/2/2013

    " The story deals with adultery and sin, a subject that isn't that popular these days. This book is very challenging. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie Powell | 12/2/2013

    " Excellent look at how guilt plays such an important role in our lives and the effects of ignoring the truth. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lina | 11/29/2013

    " I would actually give this 3.5 stars! It was enjoyable and really thoughtful, only downfall would be how hard and different it was to read. The overall story of it was nice and a good read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathleen | 11/26/2013

    " Like all classics, there are always parts that drag. I read this in 11th grade and wanted to read it again. I liked it better when I read it the second time. I appreciate the imagery much better. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patty | 11/24/2013

    " Current Book Club read for NOV "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cory | 10/27/2013

    " I enjoyed this book. It demonstrates three different people's reactions to the consequences of sin. As you read of Hester Pryne and her scarlet letter, you will see the power that forgiveness can have in a person's life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jamee Barnes | 10/25/2013

    " Somewhat complex but a really good book overall. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Samefish | 10/22/2013

    " Loved it and left with a yearning for more Hawthorne "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ian | 10/20/2013

    " I liked this book, but at times I just felt it was so long-winded and pointless that I had to stop reading. It had some really, really good prose in it, but a lot of it was just out-right unnecessary. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rg | 10/20/2013

    " Did I hate this book or did I hate this book? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Samantha | 10/16/2013

    " not as exactly what i expected after seeing Easy A... but great descriptive writing "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gail | 10/14/2013

    " Read in high school English Lit class. Can't remember the teachers name, but do remember he had a huge afro and was what we considered subversive. As a teacher he was well liked and respected. He talked to us as peers and talked of life. Something most adults did not do.He loved literature. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anya | 10/9/2013

    " I really, really liked this book. :) Don't have time to review it right now, but I definately will later. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tess Wilmoth | 10/7/2013

    " I really did not enjoy this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deb Mankame | 10/6/2013

    " Thanks to Mrs. Chamberlain, I ended up hating this book "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lexus Sweets | 10/6/2013

    " This is the worst book I have read so far...I can't believe I read it but umm people hated Hester but like ...they had some funny things happen in this book "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Greg | 10/5/2013

    " Bit of a drainer. Needed an oxygen tank on side to finish. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 9/23/2013

    " I finally did my 9th grade homework assignment and I loved it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nancy Graham | 9/19/2013

    " I think this classic has aged well. Fascinating character study -- including a grasp of social-think and the capacity for evil in the most unexpected places. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deana Bass | 9/2/2013

    " "She will not speak!...Wondrous strength and generosity of a woman's heart!" great lines get me every time. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Johnathan | 8/22/2013

    " I did not think this was a very good book. Things just kind of happened out of nowhere. It just seemed really random and confusing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandy | 8/17/2013

    " This book had a lot of description. I read it with curiosity even though I knew how it ended. However, I listened to it for the last 2 chapters. Wishing I had listed to the whole thing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Quincey | 8/13/2013

    " I thought I read this years ago. I am sorry I missed it. So far, this is an interesting and complex emploration of human strength. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sonja | 6/21/2013

    " It was not bad, but it was not really good either. The themes of sin and guilt are quite interesting, and I liked the descriptions of the deeply religious Puritan society. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jamie | 6/10/2013

    " Omg I hated this book, but what a masterpiece. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tasia | 5/17/2013

    " I've encountered this text a few times, and every time, I become even more disillusioned. Between Hester's creepy child, meteors writing A's in the sky, and all the ridiculous drama attached to guilty souls... No. I can't say I'm all that crazy about this novel, classic or not. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ryelmer | 5/11/2013

    " Classic "you can run but you can't hide" from who you really are. If the practice of branding individuals for infidelity occurred today, I would buy stock in the company responsible for manufacturing the letters. I'll never look at a person wearing an Anaheim Angels logo the same way. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maria Wheeler | 5/5/2013

    " Read this one in school. Love sucks! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Helen | 4/30/2013

    " Promising start, but gets very loose in the middle, not easy to read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ghada | 3/29/2013

    " the author is genius and have high sense and had describe the actions in a creative way "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracy Mcdowell | 3/19/2013

    " Pearl is one of my favorite charters I have ever read, but the stories flow was choppy and unenjoyable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dee_marie | 3/18/2013

    " It's a good book. The language in it is older and more difficult to read. Once i got into the book i really liked it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Allison Zink | 3/17/2013

    " Good conversions always seems to come from this book! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kelly | 3/15/2013

    " I like words. This book had beautiful writing. But it was INCESSANT. Too many words in sentence after sentence after sentence. This story could have been told in half the time had Hawthorn been robbed of his thesaurus. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Alice | 1/29/2013

    " I wish I could give six stars. This is a great story told by a master storyteller. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 sandra | 1/19/2013

    " Read this in undergrad. Great book "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nancy Graham | 12/26/2012

    " I think this classic has aged well. Fascinating character study -- including a grasp of social-think and the capacity for evil in the most unexpected places. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tommy | 12/25/2012

    " This book was extremely well written, but average in my opinion. Hawthorne uses an exquisite diction and demonstrates an excellent use of dark romance. Although I found the book quite boring I would still recommend it to others because it is a classic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elana Lanzetta | 11/29/2012

    " Interesting to think about the true nature of right and wrong, good and evil....enjoyed "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracy Mcdowell | 11/29/2012

    " Pearl is one of my favorite charters I have ever read, but the stories flow was choppy and unenjoyable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Florin Pitea | 11/1/2012

    " I read this when I was a student and enjoyed it quite a lot. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Johnathan | 10/16/2012

    " I did not think this was a very good book. Things just kind of happened out of nowhere. It just seemed really random and confusing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Natasha | 9/21/2012

    " I forgot how good this book was and I think I appreciated it more reading it as an adult. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lois | 8/25/2012

    " once you get past the intro, its pretty good "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shannon H | 8/16/2012

    " I went back recently and read this book again, after discovering Nathaniel Hawthorne in my family tree. Takes on a different feeling knowing someone you are related to wrote this Classic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sophie-louise Truelove | 8/16/2012

    " Well written, with some thought-provoking sentences, but ultimately a long-winded book about religion, good and evil. Also, I found Nathaniel Hawthorne's male chauvinism highly unpalatable. The best part of his novel is the character, Pearl, the otherworldly child of Hester Prynne. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Michael Lee | 8/2/2012

    " maybe it was because i was forced to read this in HS, or it is not my preferred genre, but it was painful. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sonja | 8/1/2012

    " It was not bad, but it was not really good either. The themes of sin and guilt are quite interesting, and I liked the descriptions of the deeply religious Puritan society. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Martha Fedorowicz | 7/31/2012

    " I hate this book! If it had been short story as Hawthorne intended it to be, it would have been so good! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 M Prasanna | 7/22/2012

    " Really liked the story even though there was not much action. Was really poignant but liked it. Lots of feelings and views packed in the story. Four star rating is because of the ending. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 J-P Teti | 7/5/2012

    " Verily indeed, this book doth suck! Behold how confusing and archaic the language hath appeared unto me! Thou who reads this surely shall die (of boredom, at least). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelly Cosio | 7/3/2012

    " Reading along with the 11th grade English Lit class "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Johnathan | 6/19/2012

    " I did not think this was a very good book. Things just kind of happened out of nowhere. It just seemed really random and confusing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 LaVonne Powell | 6/14/2012

    " One of the best books I have ever read. I want to read it again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy Wolf | 6/7/2012

    " I'm not a huge fan of most 19th century American novels, but this one is a barnburner! Hawthorne assauges his guilt (his Uncle was a judge at the Salem Witch Trials) by damning Puritan society for their treatment of Hester Prynne & her pastor/lover. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jess | 6/6/2012

    " A worthwhile classic, certainly. The first section--The Custom House--can be tedious, but once you get into Hester Prynne's infuriating story, you don't want to leave it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cassidy Diehr | 5/24/2012

    " I liked this book because it was suspenseful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dee_marie | 4/26/2012

    " It's a good book. The language in it is older and more difficult to read. Once i got into the book i really liked it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patty | 4/14/2012

    " Current Book Club read for NOV "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jen Denis | 4/13/2012

    " If you can get past the archaic language and get into the story, you will start to love and hate the characters in this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Edelweiss | 4/5/2012

    " The book was pretty good, but I dislike the cover. Hester looks like "Weird" Al. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Steven | 4/5/2012

    " I read it in high school. I you're not used to the "language" you will be lost. But if you have an English teacher explain it to you it's fantastic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mo | 4/1/2012

    " Required reading in high school. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Makeda | 3/13/2012

    " This is a book that I read for a class. I've read it before, but like most books new things appear as you read them in different points of life. It has many layers of meaning and although I don't agree with certain things in the book it was a good read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Becka Lue :D | 3/12/2012

    " Most boring required book I've ever been forced to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy Bainbridge | 3/8/2012

    " Another book I read in highschool and recently re-read. Hester Prynne is an incredibly strong woman. Has a surprise ending. I appreciated it more the 2nd time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sanja Aisha | 2/16/2012

    " "In short, unpleasant as was my predicament at best, I saw much reason to congratulate myself that I was on the loosing side , rather than the triumphant one. . . "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jacqueline | 2/8/2012

    " Oh lord the run on sentences... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katelyn Irons | 1/23/2012

    " Good writing, but frankly not to my taste. I dislike the fact that they force everyone to read this in high school. I think there are a lot better books out there... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Devon | 1/22/2012

    " a bit hard to get through but great message and storyline. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kindra | 1/14/2012

    " Good read, but a little sad. I love the transcendentalists. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Frances | 1/5/2012

    " I like to talk about this book more than I enjoy reading it. This is very Hawthorne, but I prefer his short stories. Such heavy-handed symbolism! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Crystal Ecker | 12/26/2011

    " The Scarlet Letter was an interesting book. The dark romantic style of Nethaniel Hawthorne was slightly disturbing though. He always had some type of unexpected ironic twist throughout the story. However, the book was also very hard to read because of the old fashioned English style. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle Lavender | 12/7/2011

    " who could not love a book which begins 'a throng of bearded men' loves it "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lia Angelini | 10/2/2011

    " This is my absolute favorite classic. Seriously. The angst...the love affair... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Hannah Thigpen | 9/29/2011

    " The overall story... Pretty good. The way it's written? AWFUL. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachel D. | 9/20/2011

    " I read this every year with my Honors classes, and I love it every time! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lauren | 7/23/2011

    " Ugh. If I could scrub that little beast of a child out of my mind, I would. We basically listened to the audio version in high school, and it was narrated by what sounded like an elderly woman who acted in one too many plays. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Becka Lue :D | 7/2/2011

    " Most boring required book I've ever been forced to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lowell | 6/30/2011

    " Nathaniel Hawthorne's overly flowery style is not my cup of coffee, but the story is nonetheless moving, at least to me. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sandra Durand | 6/23/2011

    " I didn't like reading this book. Too degrading. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Katrina | 6/3/2011

    " I hated this book very much. Reading it in my English class was an awful experience "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debbie | 5/28/2011

    " It's a classic what else is there to say. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patty | 5/25/2011

    " Current Book Club read for NOV "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristy | 5/22/2011

    " I enjoyed this substantially more when I read it again after I was required to read it in high school. Hawthorne makes liberal use of the comma - just ignore them and it flows much better. ;) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rebecca | 5/22/2011

    " You know, surprisingly I liked this book when I read it in high school. For all the rap I heard about it, I thought I wouldn't like it. But I felt that the characters were real. And wasn't there a twist-up in the end? I don't remember . ..it's been so long! =) "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dav8d777 | 5/21/2011

    "
    Read for school. Painful as all hell. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nisha | 5/21/2011

    " I've always enjoyed this book because I find something new to focus on every time I read it. This time around was the contemplation of Chillingworth's moral decline. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie.bloomfield | 5/18/2011

    " As most people, I had to read this for a high school English class. This book is a classic and I actually enjoyed reading it and found the messages is conveyed interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maddie | 5/16/2011

    " Read for Abrams junior year AP English...really enjoyed it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Geneal | 5/13/2011

    " I appreciate this book more as an adult reader than I did in high school. It is intriguing for many reasons. The hypocrisy of piety rings through the pages. That scarlet "A" is such a unique symbol. Always a good read! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Becca | 5/11/2011

    " I read this book in high school and could not put it down. I learned so much about the colonial/puritan period from reading it. I am looking forward to rereading as an older adult and finding out how much my perspective has changed. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Huma | 5/11/2011

    " I hated this book. So much. :| I hate Hawthorne in general. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chole | 5/10/2011

    " It was written very long ago and to understand the writing took a little while. But good book "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 F. | 5/8/2011

    " This was really well done. Hester Pryn comes out of this the winner. The reverand acted like a weiner for the longest time. The husband was a cruel bastard. That's what I remember about this work. I read this in High School. "

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