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The Scarlet Letter

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Reformative Religion in The Scarlet Letter

  • Jun 17, 2010


The narrative of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter plays out amid the religious fervor of an early American Puritan community. While an extremely diverse movement, and difficult to cleanly define, Puritan canon consisted of the Old and New Testaments, with an especial emphasis on the prophetic warnings of the Old Testament and an identification with the Old Testament Israelites. The Scarlet Letter acknowledges major Old Testament themes in the context of the Puritan community and “transcends” them. This marks the work as a decidedly transcendentalist piece touting at once greater personal responsibility and more scrupulous punishment.      

The Scarlet Letter conveys a sense of reformative religion. Its heroes are sinners, its “Puritans” are perhaps not so pure, and its themes all forward the principles of understanding, personal responsibility and reformation, and love. It transcends the harsh justice of the Old Testament with the loving principles of the New Testament. Ultimately, I find it an extremely emotive and cathartic read--I highly recommend it. 

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More The Scarlet Letter reviews
Quick Tip by . July 17, 2010
I found this book hard to read. The story itself was haunting and condemnatory.
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
...I just really can't get into this old style of writing...
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
I absolutely loved the movie (with Demi Moore) but to follow the book takes a lot of HARD reading. Hawthorne is not an easy read.
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
I read this book in high school,but i really liked it. Wouldn't mind owning this classic novel.
Quick Tip by . July 07, 2010
yet another book i read my senior year. couldnt really get that into it tho.
review by . July 07, 2010
I fully entered into this novel expecting to like it., although I knew nothing about the plot. The fact that the author was said to have very detailed sentenced intrigued me because I wished to see the characters through his eyes. Unfortunately I was let down, instead of being detailed I saw the novel as wordy and too thick for enjoyable reading. It has good attributes from a  literature stand point, but it put me off reading Hawthorne again.     …
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
Hester, the protagonist, is a true model of redemption. She displays the fragility of the human spirit as well as the resilience. THe novel is a great showing of puritan values and satirical criticism.
Quick Tip by . June 21, 2010
Although I read it in high school, I think of it now as a period piece.
Quick Tip by . June 19, 2010
When my teacher handed me my beatup school issue copy of this book, and what I had known about it previous to reading it, I didn't want to like it. I read ahead of the class, read it a few times before they were finished, and went out and bought my own copy of this book. It was so much better than I had expected and even could hope for.
Quick Tip by . June 17, 2010
This was a reading assignment for my high school English class. I didn't really enjoy reading it though. It wasn't really the type of book I like to read. I found it a little slow. But, it's a good story if you like that type of book.
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