Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Oxford History of the Novel in EnglishVolume 5: The American Novel to 1870$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

J. Gerald Kennedy and Leland S. Person

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780195385359

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780195385359.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 24 June 2019

The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter

(p.343) 20 The Scarlet Letter
The Oxford History of the Novel in English

Monika Elbert

Oxford University Press

This chapter offers a reading of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 historical fiction The Scarlet Letter: A Romance. It first considers Henry James’s opinion of The Scarlet Letter before discussing the “American” qualities attached to the novel and the darkness associated with its appeal. It then examines why The Scarlet Letter has become a great piece of American literature despite its themes of sinfulness, law, and unjust punishment. It also analyzes Hawthorne’s decision to take on the challenge of writing the historical romance before concluding with an assessment of criticisms against Hawthorne’s morality and politics.

Keywords:   American literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne, historical fiction, The Scarlet Letter, Henry James, sinfulness, unjust punishment, historical romance, morality, politics

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .