Written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter is a classic story about ostracism, guilt, legalism, and dignity. The book follows the main character, Hester Prynne as she attempts to start a new life after being accused of adultery.
I’m going to start off with the illustrations in The Scarlet Letter because they are my favourite of the Manga Classics series so far. Hester and Pearl are drawn beautifully, coming to life through their expression-filled features.
The artwork also captures the dramatic moments perfectly, adding weight to moments of shame and declaration. The quieter parts of the story also shine, such as when Pearl and Hester are in the woods or alone together.
Like most classic stories, The Scarlet Letter has been adapted a number of times for different forms of media. This is my new favourite way to experience the story thanks to the expert way the story has been condensed for the manga.
While the original version can be difficult to read, this adaptation takes the story and translates it in such a way that readers of any age can enjoy and understand it. The notes at the end of the novel explain how some of the symbolism was captured with visual imagery, which added a new layer to the story.
As for the scarlet letter, Hester’s good works and kindess changed the meaning of that mark during her lifetime. No longer was it something to mock or fear, but a symbol of awe and reverence.
Of course, some of the weight of the original story was lost in this translation. This is especially evident when comparing the manga to the novel’s heavier religious themes. However, this version of the book is a great way to experience the story in a new way.
For a different take on this adaptation, check out this review on Kimyouna Onna. This concludes the fifth part of my Manga Classics review series. Check back tomorrow for the next entry in the series, Great Expectations.