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The Scarlet Letter Book Review How does a man who lived his life in near-seclusion so sympathetically portray the life of a young woman shunned from society What elements of his early life gave Nathaniel Hawthorne such insight into the complex mind of an ostracized woman in the 1600s Born in 1804 in Salem Massachusetts a town infamous for its ill treatment of women Hawthorne was a descendent of a judge in the Salem witch trials Widowed when Nathaniel was only four years old his mother became reclusive withdrawing from society His mothers lifestyle influenced his later behavior both in his lifestyle and his writings After graduating from Bowdoin College Nathaniel moved back to Salem and lived a life of solitude for twelve years seldom leaving his room He fell into a state of depression often contemplating suicide It was at this time that Hawthorne began to write After struggling professionally and financially for eight years The Scarlet Letter Hawthornes best-known and most popul ar book was published in 1850 The commercial success of the novel brought Hawthorne into public light In his old age however Hawthorne became reclusive once again The mere sight of somebody coming up the walkway to his home would send him fleeing into the woods Hawthornes eccentric unusual and introspective upbringing greatly impacted his writings influencing him to portray characters who were involved in secret lives filled with adultery false identities and forbidden love Only a man with a unique mind like that of Hawthorne would have dared to publish a novel containing these unspeakable themes The Scarlet Letter begins with Hester Prynne an assumed widow being led to the scaffold proudly bearing her illegitimate daughter Pearl The birth of her child made her sin of passion known to the townspeople who forces Hester to be publicly humiliated by wearing a red letter A on her dress While standing on the scaffold Hester steadfastly refuses to identify the father
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