It’s been 50 years since I read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter in my high school American literature class. What I vaguely remembered was a story about a woman named Hester Prynne in Puritan New England, with a baby born out of wedlock, and the narrowminded colonists who took great pride in displaying their superiority over the sinful, fallen woman.
As I started reading the book in May, it took me all of the first two chapters to realize that what I remembered, and what had seeped into my head about the book in the past half-century, was superficially right but substantially wrong. It is much more than what I remembered.
The biggest surprise so far has been the two significant male characters, the Reverend Mr. Arthur Dimmesdale and the man who shows up and calls himself Roger Chillingworth but is actually Hester Prynne’s long-absent husband. (You have to love the names Hawthorne gives his characters, as descriptive as those of Charles Dickens, but then, Hawthorne was writing and publishing about the same time).
To continue reading, please see my post today at Literary Life.