|Image Credits: https://upload.wikimedia.org/|
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a story of hatred and judgment of the society against a woman named Hester, who conceives a child with a man other than her husband. Although this is a frowned upon case in today’s society, as well, the consequences borne by Hester were unimaginable. She was made to stand on a scaffold for a considerable amount of time with her child in her arms and wear a scarlet colored ‘A’ on her robe for the world to see. She carried this symbol with her throughout life. Even after bearing insult and punishment of this horrifying extent, she refused to unveil the name of her partner in crime. Thus, she carried the pain of her punishment, all alone.
“…she turned her eyes downwards at the scarlet letter, and even touched it with her finger, to assure herself that the infant and the shame were real.”
So was the extent of her helplessness! It is quite indulging to read how her husband and the father of her child meet each other long after this incident. Her husband, who has the sole intention of destructing the life of a man who dared have an illicit relationship with his wife, and the other man, who is bearing the pain of living a burdened life of keeping the secret that created a storm of this degree in Hester’s world, are both sinful in their own manner. In the midst of these extreme feelings, Pearl, the daughter of Hester, is giving an impression that she is under the effect of Satan.
Although there are many other elements in the book, the feeling of grief remains the central concept of the book. There are an enormous pain, gloom, and sadness in it. Most of the paragraphs of each chapter are covered with the grief of Hester. At times, I felt compelled to admire the author for portraying the vivid description of the pain; however, after a while, I felt overburdened with reading the same emotion, repeatedly. There was only one escape from the details of Hester’s agony and that was in Pearl’s innocent and – sometimes – devious characteristics. Her dialogues are a happy get away from all the grievous things happening in the plot. My favorite dialogue is when a man asks her if she could convey a message to Hester and she says,
“If the message pleases me, I will.”
For me, Pearl is the soul of the book, and she is the voice of her grieving mother. Although she is just a child, she rebukes the people when they try to hurt her, and she poses honest questions to everyone, irrespective of their position and power. When her father meets her and Hester in the forest and kisses her forehead, she directly asks him whether he would do the same in front of people or he will hold her and her mother's hands only when they are alone. There are so many colors to her character, which kept me motivated to read the book.
The wildly descriptive style of the author has the power to draw a live image of the scenes as if they are occurring in front of our own eyes; however, at the same time, it tests the patience of the readers, too. There are too many details about the feelings of the characters and -- somehow -- each one of them ended up depressing me; of course, this is a book about a tragic life of a woman, but I did not think it would have a never-ending description of sadness at every line of each chapter. Nonetheless, the author’s selection of the words has a pinpoint accuracy, which enables him to convey his intended emotions in the hearts of the readers.
The author picked up the simplest thoughts and then wrote them in a magnificent manner to keep the reader awestruck with his choice of elegant words to deliver the message.
“Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart!”
Having said all that, this book would interest the readers, who enjoy a tragic plot decorated with grand and spellbinding words. If you are one of those readers, who like a close and detailed description of every single aspect, character, and emotion then you are in for a treat. As for me, I found it extremely difficult to read lengthy details, only to find the extreme sadness that prevailed around Hester. Moreover, it was a hectic task for me to follow the story without being distracted by overwhelming details of everything. One thing that kept me motivated to read until the last page was my desire to know how it all ends for poor Hester.