Hester Prynne: Still Interesting!

I catch NPR only intermittently, so I’ve missed the boat on its “In Character” series, which focuses on some of the most compelling characters in literature. (“Literature” defined broadly: Last month they flooded the zone on Darth Vader.) The latest one, on Hester Prynne, is a hoot; attempting to connect The Scarlet Letter to Juno is a bit of a reach, but if ever an NPR feature was designed for AP students, this is it. John Updike, interviewed for the feature, calls out a tryst between Prynne and Dimmesdale as one of the best scenes in American literature:

“First she throws away the scarlet letter,” Updike recalls. “Then, quote, ‘By another impulse, she took off the formal cap that confined her hair; and down it fell upon her shoulders, dark and rich, with at once a shadow and a light in its abundance and imparting the charm of softness to her features.’

“How wonderful, the power of the hair,” Updike says.

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