Sunday, January 12, 2014

105. The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne
1850
Around 400 pages













I can honestly say I have no idea why this novel is so praised and foisted on high school students.  There are certain books that I find boring (you can find plenty of those on this blog) but I understand why they might be of interest to other people.  However, I simply think that Hawthorne is a bad writer. You cannot just put pages and pages of description about a fucking rosebush and expect your reader to stay interested.

Everybody knows this story, even those people who were too cool to do assigned readings in high school.  Hester Prynne is forced by her town to wear a scarlet A on her chest to symbolize that she is an adulteress.  Hester refuses to reveal the father of her bastard child thereby maintaining her dignity through terrible circumstances blah blah blah.

I suppose high schools think that students will be able to relate to the isolation that Hester felt in her town.  And everybody knows that extreme boredom is the cure for loneliness!

There is absolutely no subtlety in this novel: the symbols in this novel that teachers are so obsessed with practically scream their real meaning at you. Or perhaps I am remembering the screaming of my teacher trying to keep everyone awake during discussions.  Hmmmm....it's kind of a blur.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The Demi Moore adaptation of this book was actually used as an example of how horribly novels can translate into film in my sister's Fiction to Film class.

Fans of the novel include Henry James and D.H. Lawrence.  Oh what do they know?

Trailer for Easy A, a hilarious movie that is inspired by this novel.  There's a connection I swear!
UP NEXT: Moby Dick by Herman Melville.  Don't pray for me; I already read it!

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