The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter (Signet Classics): Hawthorne, Nathaniel ...

The Scarlet Letter is a novel by American romantic writer Hawthorne. It was published in 1850. The Scarlet Letter is about the tragedy of love in colonial North America. The heroine, Hester Prynne, was married to a physician, Chillingworth, but there was no love between them. In her loneliness, Prynne fell in love with the reverend Dimmesdale and gave birth to her daughter Pearl. Prynne was publicly punished and was paraded to the public with the symbol of adultery. But Hester Prynne remained steadfast and refused to name the child’s father. Symbolism is often used in the novel. Characters, plots, and language are highly subjective, and psychological activities and intuition are often given priority in the description. Therefore, it is not only a representative work of American romantic novels but also known as the pioneer of American psychoanalytic novels.

The love between Hester and Dimmesdale is full of the sacrificing spirit of a moth to the flame, which has a strong tragic color. They are not only the unashamed martyrs who sacrifice themselves for the higher truth but also the victims who are offered to God on the altar of Puritan. The symbolism of the letter “A”, at the heart of the book, is more colorful than red. Its connotation changes with the development of the plot and characters, and varies with the standpoint of the observer, showing the characteristics of wandering and drifting. “A” is the first letter of the alphabet, signifying beginning, and in Christian doctrine, the beginning in the fall, the original sin from which no one is spared. The beginning of the world was the fall; Adam and Eve, the ancestors of human beings, were expelled from the Garden of Eden because they sinned by eating the forbidden fruit. The beginning of life is also the fall, Adam and Eve’s children and grandchildren inherit original sin which means that people are born to sin.

-Coreen C.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthrone is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The novel Things Fall Apart was written by Chinua Achebe in 1958, and follows the story of Okonkwo. Set in Umuofia, a fictional village in Nigeria, it details life in Africa before European colonialism and after. The first part of Things Fall Apart introduces the reader to life in a typical African village, with Okonkwo as the main protagonist. A hard-working man looking to escape the shame brought by his father, Okonkwo rises to a high position in his village, becoming one of the leaders.

In the second and third sections of the novel, Achebe begins to write about the settlement of Europeans from the point of view of the African people. He details the effects colonialism has on Africans, and the complete disruption and, eventually, destruction of traditional tribal life. Though the main character Okonkwo does try to fight this, his attempts are futile in the end.

This novel has great literary significance as up until the publishing of this novel, most books about African life were written by the point of view of Europeans, who would often portray Africans as inferior and primitive in their novels. However, Chinua Achebe would be one of the first of a new wave of African writers. He would show the world a new perspective on colonialism and how it was not always a good thing. This amazing novel brought about great change in the literary world and is one that should be read by all.

-Kobe L.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is available for checkout form the Mission Viejo Library