Banned Books Week 2017 – The Scarlet Letter

Banned Books – Banned books are books or other printed works such as essays or plays which are prohibited by law or to which free access is not permitted by other means. The practice of banning books is a form of censorship, from political, legal, religious, moral, or (less often) commercial motives. – Wikipedia

There are a lot of reasons why a book gets banned.  Usually, because someone, somewhere disagrees with the ideas in a book.  So because that person, or group, doesn’t like the book they decide that no one else should be able to read it.

In celebration of banned books week, I will choose one banned book each day to highlight.  Some of those won’t be a surprise.  Some of them may shock you. Good. Don’t be afraid to read a banned book today…

scarlet letter novel

The Scarlet Letter

Reasons for ban: Morality, obscenity, conflicts with community values

Sadly, it’s not hard to imagine why this book keeps being banned. When it was originally written in 1850, I’m quite sure it was a scandal! A woman has an adulterous affair with a local minister. Has a child out of wedlock, and eventually leaves her abusive husband. To audiences of that time I’m sure it was shocking.

Efforts to ban this book continue today! With some school districts calling the book “pornographic”.  In truth, there is nothing like porn in this book. What it does have is a sympathetic heroine, and that is the crux of the argument. One of the complaints about the book is that it moves the reader to sympathize with Hester. As we read the book we start to see her as an abused victim of her husband, as well as of the repressive, authoritarian culture of her town. She has the “bad judgement” not to return to her hearth and home, submitting to whatever emotional tortures her husband would have had in store for her. But if she wasn’t going to do that, then she also didn’t die just lie down and die of shame or grovel at the feet of the town leaders. She had inner strength and a measure of dignity. But a sinful woman is a sinful woman and the puritan society could never allow her to escape the Letter. Seems that people have trouble getting past that letter to this day.


I’d like to link to some other bloggers who are doing Banned Books Week posting… please visit their blogs and read what they have to say!

3 thoughts on “Banned Books Week 2017 – The Scarlet Letter

  1. It’s amazing to me that this book is still being banned. Yes, in 1850 it would have been quite the scandal! But now? Well, I feel like Hester does all the things we celebrate a woman for doing now. Owning her own sexuality, standing up for her rights and freedoms, being a loving woman and member of the community. Let’s support our own ideals, people!

    Now I really want to re-read this book.

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