The Scarlet Letter

By Nathaniel Hawthorne
A handy way to read classic literature

It shows all contents of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and integrates modern media and interactive features. You can listen to the book and read the text on the same page. In addition, it provides powerful and flexible content search on all chapters by word, phrase, and sentence. The app helps very much to understand and analyze the details of this masterpiece.
Free Online Vocabulary Test
K12, SAT, GRE, IELTS, TOEFL
 Actions
Search the whole book   Search showing content  
All contents of The Scarlet Letter has been loaded, now I. THE PRISON DOOR is showing.
User Tips:
  1. This page offers a flexible search on the whole book of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
  2. It shows contents by chapters; select chapters by yourself.
  3. You can search either the whole book or the current chapter.
  4. The search object can be any word, phrase, or even sentence.
  5. The search result is highlighted in green. You will see an abstract of the search; the current chapter will jump to show the first result if the search result isn't empty.
  6. The original green highlight contents will reset when running a new search.
  7. Blank is also a search factor; for example, "the" and " the " are different search objects.
  8. If the search object is empty, no search result return, but previous search results will reset.
  9. You may change text and background colors; notice not to confuse with searched contents highlighted in green.
  10. Some books link audio materials that help you read and listen to them on the same page.
 I. THE PRISON DOOR          

A throng of bearded men, in sad-coloured garments and grey steeple-crowned hats, inter-mixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes.

The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognised it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison. In accordance with this rule it may safely be assumed that the forefathers of Boston had built the first prison-house somewhere in the Vicinity of Cornhill, almost as seasonably as they marked out the first burial-ground, on Isaac Johnson's lot, and round about his grave, which subsequently became the nucleus of all the congregated sepulchres in the old churchyard of King's Chapel. Certain it is that, some fifteen or twenty years after the settlement of the town, the wooden jail was already marked with weather-stains and other indications of age, which gave a yet darker aspect to its beetle-browed and gloomy front. The rust on the ponderous iron-work of its oaken door looked more antique than anything else in the New World. Like all that pertains to crime, it seemed never to have known a youthful era. Before this ugly edifice, and between it and the wheel-track of the street, was a grass-plot, much overgrown with burdock, pig-weed, apple-pern, and such unsightly vegetation, which evidently found something congenial in the soil that had so early borne the black flower of civilised society, a prison. But on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rose-bush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him.

This rose-bush, by a strange chance, has been kept alive in history; but whether it had merely survived out of the stern old wilderness, so long after the fall of the gigantic pines and oaks that originally overshadowed it, or whether, as there is fair authority for believing, it had sprung up under the footsteps of the sainted Ann Hutchinson as she entered the prison-door, we shall not take upon us to determine. Finding it so directly on the threshold of our narrative, which is now about to issue from that inauspicious portal, we could hardly do otherwise than pluck one of its flowers, and present it to the reader. It may serve, let us hope, to symbolise some sweet moral blossom that may be found along the track, or relieve the darkening close of a tale of human frailty and sorrow.