Nathaniel Hawthorne’s powerful tale of forbidden love, shame and revenge comes to life in Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter. When Hester Prynne bears an illegitimate child she is introduced to the ugliness, complexity, and ultimately the strength of the human spirit. Though set in a Puritan community during the Colonial American period, the moral dilemmas of personal responsibility and consuming emotions of guilt, anger, loyalty and revenge are timeless.
*Synopsis from NetGalley and photo from Goodreads
*I would like to thank Udon Entertainment and NetGalley for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
Last year, I’ve read a few manga translated into French and somehow I enjoyed reading them. It’s fun, quick and can be quite entertaining, too. Not to mention the colorful artworks. And while browsing NetGalley, I keep seeing manga classic titles and finally one day I decided to give it a try. I choose the Nathaniel Hawthorne classic, The Scarlet Letter, because I am familiar with the story as it is some sort of a required read back when I was in high school. Rather than a book, we were given some kind of a comic book where instead of colorful graphics, it has black and white stills from what looks like an old play or TV show and collated to form a decent story of The Scarlet Letter. It tells a story about a woman, Hester Prynne, who committed adultery and was punished for it by carrying a symbol, the letter “A”, across her chest at all times. She repeatedly refused to reveal the identity of the man she’s sharing the mortal sin with which made her suffer the punishment alone. But she bravely faced the judgment of everyone and drew strength from the child she’s carrying.
I’d say this manga version did an excellent job in translating the classic novel that some may have a hard time getting into. Of course, I can’t compare it to the novel as I haven’t read it yet, but upon reading this version, I became curious and maybe one day will decide to pick it up. The artworks are beautiful which made the somewhat serious plot interesting and enjoyable to read. Because of the format, the story is much easier to understand not to mention reading it is a breeze. It is surely a great way to get kids and adults alike into reading classics. Despite the length, though, the manga version still managed to capture the essence of the story, if a little too dramatic, which is definitely a plus.
As for the story, it was set in a Puritan community where people cast stones to others so easily and hypocrisy is rampant. Hester is presented as a strong, independent, loving, and loyal woman who is still holding on to her faith despite what she’d been through. The symbolism is nicely interpreted which goes to show how much depth the story has. Overall, a good read and a satisfying adaptation.