Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saturday is Book Day: The Scarlet Letter

I have this little (huge) problem with having lots and lots of ideas and not being able to execute them. I know an idea is a really good idea and then I set out to follow through with that idea and immediately I am inundated with all the possible variants, permutations, and connections. Gods, where the hell do I start?


No pressure. Just get started. I can see in my head the essays I want to write on the different topics I have chosen for each day (see: I fear my reach doth exceed my grasp.) But I can't figure out where to start.

And then I figured out. I shall start simply. Go back to the beginning. Remember when you were a child and did book reviews in school? I mean a little kid, fourth grade little. You didn't write a damn essay, they gave you a set of questions with a space after each and you filled them in.

But...But...But...I'm forty-two. I should be able to write the essay. Yeah, well you aren't, are you, so go back to the beginning and try again.

Title: The Scarlet Letter

Genre: Romantic Historical Fiction

Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne

Date of publication: 1850

Place of publication: Boston, Massachusetts

Publishers: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields

Original language: English

Setting: 17th Century (starting in June 1642)

Plot Stuff:   From the SparkNotes Plot Overview:
"The story begins in seventeenth-century Boston, then a Puritan settlement. A young woman, Hester Prynne, is led from the town prison with her infant daughter, Pearl, in her arms and the scarlet letter “A” on her breast. A man in the crowd tells an elderly onlooker that Hester is being punished for adultery. Hester’s husband, a scholar much older than she is, sent her ahead to America, but he never arrived in Boston. The consensus is that he has been lost at sea. While waiting for her husband, Hester has apparently had an affair, as she has given birth to a child. She will not reveal her lover’s identity, however, and the scarlet letter, along with her public shaming, is her punishment for her sin and her secrecy."
Hester's supposedly lost-at-sea husband has finally arrived on that very day. He keeps his identity a secret from all and threatens Hester to keep her quiet about it too.  The husband, named Roger Chillingworth, takes up a new identity and proceeds with a methodical search over the next four or five years to find Hester's lover and seek his revenge.

When I read it: I honestly can't recall. Probably read it for the first time somewhere between sixth and ninth grade. That would be somewhere between the ages of twelve to fifteen. Around 27 to 30 years ago. Gad, seeing it written out like that makes me feel really old.

What I liked: I loved the rich detail of the historical setting, the 17th century was very interesting to me back then. I liked the forbidden romance. I liked Hester's strength and endurance. She loved and fiercely protected her child through all the pain it caused her.

What I didn't like: There wasn't anything I didn't like about the book itself, in writing style or story. But the oppressive of Puritan society in all aspects of life but especially for women made me furious.

Did it make me think?: Oh yes. About religion in general and Christianity specifically. About duality of relationships (I didn't call it duality back then). It made me glad to think about how far women had come and yet angry that it had been over 300 years and these antiquated ideas and morals still existed in weakened states, still oppressing the human mind and soul, men and women alike.

Do I like it more or less now?: I still love it. I've read it at least four times and I'd like to read it again, but it probably won't be for awhile. I have a very large pile of actual books on my nightstand to get through, as well as a long list of other books to be acquired.

Did I read more of the same author: I did not. More's the pity. See: Long list of other books to be acquired.

Did I like those books too: I'll tell you when I read them.

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