The Scarlet Letter (original English title: The Scarlet Letter) is a romanaméricain Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), published in 1850.
The Scarlet Letter tells the story of Hester Prynne, a young woman living in a Puritan community in Boston, Massachusetts. The action of the novel is between 1642 and 1649. At the beginning of the novel Hester Prynne is being condemned by the community to carry on the chest the letter A for adultery.
The roman is preceded by extensive essay on how the author has found the information on Hester Prynne and decided to give her stories an art form. Hawthorne led his narrative in a measured way, prescribing in detail the historical scenery, in a manner reminiscent of Walter Scott. However, unlike Scott and other romantics, he is alien to the idealization of the past and escapism with the utmost seriousness considering the social, psychological, and moral problems.
Architectonics of the novel is that no chapter or paragraph can be removed from the text without prejudice to the book as a whole. Each scene is generated by the previous one and is a natural continuation. In essence, the novel tells about four characters. The relationship between them are getting increasingly complex and narrative tension is steadily growing, catharsis comes in the scene of public deathbed repentance of the pastor.
From the first publication of the novel, warmly greeted readers and literary critics, it was attacked by some priests and religious publications. In particular, Brownson’s Quarterly noted that none Dimsdale nor Esther showed “remorse” or “genuine repentance” and that “such stories should not be told,” and columnist Church Review Arthur Cox was of the opinion that such “disgusting amorous history” is unsuitable subject for literature. In 1852, Cox called for banning the novel, stating that he opposes “any indulgence towards a popular and gifted writer, if he violates the morals, the promotion of lust should be crushed in the bud.”
Residents of Salem, maintaining a strict Puritan customs of their ancestors were so angry with the novel that Hawthorne and his family had to leave the town to his country house in Berkshire.
Further interest in the novel by his opponents was down and resumed only in the middle of the XX century. There have been several unsuccessful attempts to ban the book from studying in high school. In 1961, the parents of students in Michigan opposed the study of the novel, stating it as obscene and indecent.” In 1982, a parent from the State of Ohio demanded the withdrawal of the novel from the high school program, saying that it to be about “adultery, prostitution, and an effeminate priest.”
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