Adventures in Reading

Revisted: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

In high school I switched English levels, which left me lacking in a lot of classic high school reads. This includes authors from Twain to Salinger and just about every generic book that someone says: “Oh, I read that in high school.” This weekend I finally gave in to read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter and it was brilliant. His short piece The Custom House precedes the story and it was so descriptive and funny and that’s certainly one adjective (funny) that I’ve never heard paired with Hawthorne. Most everyone seems to be familiar with the plot (especially after the 1995 film) and it all together is a rather simple story line: a married woman whose husband has disappeared has an affair and becomes pregnant. She’s forced to wear the letter A in scarlet on her bosom as punishment. From here some fabulous ideas of witchcraft and black magic pepper the story and leads to a great ending.

Over the years I’ve been slowly reading the multitude of books everyone else read in high school. For example, I still have yet to read Of Mice & Men and people accuse me of being a bad English major for this. (To which I reply that I’ve read the likes of I Am A Cat, Gargantua & Pantagruel, and Tristram Shandy and these are only a few of the titles that I can boast!) But I really enjoyed The Scarlet Letter and most recently was interested by Hawthorne’s essay on his own writing.