|Naughty Nathaniel Hawthorne, by eva|
Oh, wait. That's probably why they don't let college students start with the introductory. It would be too much fun.
So I'm giving them an alternate reading supplementary to The Scarlet Letter: Catholic monk-turned-psychotherapist Thomas Moore's wonderful The Soul of Sex, which uses Hawthorne's Hester to explain how our competing American obsessions with sexual imagery and prudery are linked: both deriving from our failure to establish truly intimate, sensual relationships.
As you might imagine, intimate relationships were never a problem for Hawthorne, who had an intensely romantic, passionate relationship with his wife. (And if everyone could do that, there'd be no divorce court.) Hawthorne's brave Hester Prynne is prominently featured in Moore's book. And boy, does he nail Roger Chillingworth. Though at this point, I sometimes don't know who's more exasperating - Roger Chillingworth or Arthur Dimmesdale. Chillingworth is truly villainous, but Arthur is such a hypocrite. They're both so deceptive! But hey, no deception, no novelistic heroines.