Saturday, January 18, 2014

It Had Prepared Me For So Many Things

Heather Vogel Frederick's The Mother Daughter Book Club series contained many lovely novel recommendations. I was thrilled when they read Jane Eyre, one of my favorites. Because of the series, I read Jean Webster's Daddy-Long-Legs, a wonderful story written entirely in letters. And even though the series has ended (and I have grown out of it), the books the girls read have stayed with me.

These books, however, steered me terribly wrong on one matter. It gave scathing reviews to The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a book they had had to read in school. They thought it was much too flowery and wordy, and even their mothers didn't like it. However, I am reading The Scarlet Letter now. And while it is verbose, it is beautiful. The words are exactly the ones Hawthorne wanted, and it shows. Besides that, it is suspenseful. My questions, while not quite halfway through, are abundant. I am intrigued. 

(If you don't know anything about The Scarlet Letter, you might want to skip this paragraph.) Hawthorne makes the reader wonder: Who is Pearl's father? Why won't Hester say anything? Why is her husband so creepy? Why is he trying to learn all of deepest, darkest secrets of the young pastor? Why did Puritans automatically assume witchcraft and devilry was involved in everything they didn't understand?

In short, The Scarlet Letter is worth a recommendation. It's brilliantly crafted, a work of art. Hawthorne is a master writer, seemingly telling a story within the novel. Things like, "if accounts are to be believed" are included, so to almost make it seem like he's writing a history. Though it is a novel, it certainly seems like something that the Puritans could have been capable of doing. And, when put in perspective to Arthur Miller's The Crucible (which was based on fact), The Scarlet Letter seems even more plausible.

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