The Scarlet Letter and Phantastes

Challenge #8 –A classic with a single word title

Challenge #9 — A classic with a colour in the title


It’s been a while since I’ve put up a book review (far too long, really).  Today I’ll be doing mini reviews, one for The Scarlet Letter and one for Phantastes.




Phantastes is episodic, almost, as the narrator travels to places delightful and dangerous, meeting several faerie folk and engaging in various quests. Adventures include watching flower faerie antics in a garden, joining two brothers in a fight against giants, and attempting to free a marble-encased maiden in a ballroom of dancing statues.  At one point the narrator stops to tell the readers stories that he had found in a faerie library.  Poetic and unafraid to be both whimsical and terrifying, Phantastes is filled with the creative symbolism similar to what I found in his other works, The Gifts of the Child Christ.


My mind soon grew calm, and I began the duties of my new position, somewhat instructed, I hoped, by the adventures that had befallen me in Fairy Land.  Could I translate the experience of my travels there, into common life?  This was the question.  Or must I live it all over again, and learn it all over again, in the other forms that belong to the world of men, whose experience yet runs parallel to that of Fairy Land?  These questions I cannot yet answer.”


The Scarlet Letter is definitely a good book to have in the classroom – or in my case, among the scattered piles of books on the big homeschooling table.  Hawthorne does an excellent job with his lively imagery.  His characters are just as vivid, each one reacting differently to the Inciting Incident sin.  A few references to historical figures, such as John Elliot and Anne Hutchinson, caught my attention, and I approved.  Hawthorn’s analysis of human nature in reaction to sin is quite engaging.  I might even go so far as to call it colourful.


Could it be true?  She clutched the child so fiercely to her breast, that it sent forth a cry; she turned her eyes downward at the scarlet letter, and even touched it with her finger, to assure herself that the infant and the shame were real.  Yes! – These were realities,– all else had vanished!

4 thoughts on “The Scarlet Letter and Phantastes

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