Friday, 10 February 2012

Friday Fiction 5/52

Reviewed: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Everything I knew about this book prior to reading it came from my repeat viewings of Easy A, which follows (very roughly), the basic plot, but without all the religious doctrines being shoved down your throat. Not to beat up on the book, but if religion isn't your thing, or ye olde language for that matter, just watch the film. It's a lot more fun, and Emma Stone really is rather pretty in it.

For those of you who haven't seen the film (I really would recommend it) which nicely summerises the book as well as being a modern interpretation of the story in it's own right, here's the breakdown: Hester Prynne gets knocked up out of wedlock and is shunned by the manically puritanical New England society she lives in. They think it's a terrible punishment to make her wear a red 'A' on her clothes, so that everyone knows she's an adulterer, which seems pretty weak to me, given that her alternative punishment was death, but it torments her a lot so maybe it was harsh enough for the times. She refuses to say who the baby daddy is, and bears her punishment silently, devoting her life to redemption through charity and chasteness and eventually wins everyone around so that when it's finally revealed who the father is, everyone thinks she's great. Basically, NOTHING HAPPENS.

I found it really difficult to connect to a story that was so overtly about religious fundamentalism, even if the point of it was that religion is flawed and the puritans took it too far, and it was so needlessly descriptive. It's not a particularly long book but I still managed to end up skim reading large chunks out of sheer boredom - particularly the first 50 or so pages. I enjoyed how Hester's character was portrayed, and thought that once the story got going, I would begin to enjoy it, but it never really got going, it was very arduously drawn out and then everything was very suddenly concluded at the end, in a rushed and anti-climatic way.

Very disappointing for such a lauded classic, 3.5/10

Have you read it, what did you think? Is my review too harsh or did you find it as dull and hard to get your teeth in to as I did? How do you think Easy A compares in terms on story lines?

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