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The Scarlet Letter
Follow Us On. Search Go Advanced Search. Get this free title from:. Audio Download. This Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne. This Narrator: Mary Woods. This Publisher: Literal Systems. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Mary Woods.
Between Hawthorne's earlier and his later productions there is no solution of literary continuity, but only increased growth and grasp. Rappaccini's Daughter, Young Goodman Brown, Peter Goldthwaite's Treasure, and The Artist of the Beautiful, on the one side, are the promise which is fulfilled in The Scarlet Letter and the House of The Seven Gables, on the other; though we should hardly have understood the promise had not the fulfillment explained it. The shorter pieces have a lyrical quality, but the longer romances express more than a mere combination of lyrics; they have a rich, multifarious life of their own. The material is so wrought as to become incidental to something loftier and greater, for which our previous analysis of the contents of the egg had not prepared us. The Scarlet Letter was the first, and the tendency of criticism is to pronounce it the most impressive, also, of these ampler productions. It 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.
This book tells the story of Hester Prynne, a young woman who conceives a child while her husband is missing at sea. The Puritan Elders of the New England settlement of Boston, where she lives, condemn her to wear a scarlet letter A to signify her adultery. She refuses to name her lover, and he too keeps his silence, but with a terrible cost. The tale is prefaced with an account of the Salem Custom-house where Nathaniel Hawthorne was working when he began writing The Scarlet Letter.