Saturday, March 26, 2016

Review Mashups: Happy Endings, The Crucible, and The Scarlet Letter

28673445 Happy Endings by Margaret Atwood

 5 stars

This is one of those short stories that I have just fallen in love with. The style Atwood chose to write "Happy Endings" in is one of the most diverse formatting styles I've come across. This story is everything I want in a short story because it really enhances on the fact that there are no happy endings because everyone dies. The use feminism and roles of women in society in part B were expounded upon and for some reason I felt this sad weight over the roles that Mary has happily placed herself in at the hopes of pleasing John. I'm really glad my teacher gave me this story to read because I probably wouldn't have found it until much later in life. This is one of those brief pieces in literature that speak loads more than mammoth sized books.

"Don't be deluded by any other endings, they're all fake, either deliberately fake, with malicious intent to deceive, or just motivated by excessive optimism if not by downright sentimentality.
The only authentic ending is the one provided here:

John and Mary die. John and Mary die. John and Mary die."


The Crucible by Arthur Miller

4.75 stars

The Crucible is a play I had never heard of before reading. I knew nothing about it, but I’m quite glad that this is required reading. It’s an exceptionally fantastic play. The brilliant thing about this play is that Arthur Miller took a tragic time in American history, the Salem Witch Trials, and a tragic time in his life and the world, the Cold War, being Blacklisted, and the Red Scare, infusing them together to basically flick off every government official and higher power who blacklisted him. The similarities between the Witch Trials and the Red Scare are very creepy. People were frantically paranoid with fear and needed people to point fingers at and both of these historical times resulted in many people experiencing exile in their own communities.

The Crucible is a very frantic play. It’s fast paced, full of pointing fingers, deranged girls, and Abigail. Seriously, this play should be called “How to Get Away with Being a Witch (or Bitch- It’s a Blurred Line)”.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.75

The characters in this play, particularly John Proctor, are all so infuriating. Abigail is easy to hate, but Proctor is just hard to like and hard to hate. He’s a man who couldn’t keep it in his pants and is now having to face the consequences because he scorned a woman. Regardless of whether or not I hated the characters, I was still invested in them and whether they would be hanged or not.

Character Scale: 4.5

The Villain- Abigail is the ring leader of the finger pointers with a thing for daddies. Abigail is truly the most infuriating woman in this play. She is the one to induce the fear and frenzy into the easily coerced girls which lead to hangings of many innocent people. While she is infuriating she is also a genius because she was obviously apart of witchcraft, or attempts or witchcraft, and she fled away scotch free.

Villain Scale: 4.75

In the end, everyone dies. (This isn’t really a spoiler because everyone was dropping left and right in Salem.) It’s a great play because it really evokes the hectic times of two completely different moments in American history. Also, witches- who doesn’t love a good witch?

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: Penguin Classics usually have great covers and this isn’t a disappointment. It’s a creepy painting.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

2.25 stars

The Scarlet Letter has become a staple into today’s culture. The infamous symbol of the embroidered “A” pops up in famous TV skits and even had a modernization in "Easy A". While "Easy A" takes on a more empowered outlook on dealing with being labeled a slut or adulterer Hawthorne chooses to take a stance in a much more subtle way. Because this novel is a classic it’s easy to dismiss Hawthorne as a man degrading a woman and putting her through public humiliation, etc. In reality, Hawthorne takes the struggles of Hester Prynne and encapsulates what it really means to be a woman ahead of her time.

While The Scarlet Letter has a lot of great points and interesting symbols, it is a boring book. There are small doses of fire and interest sporadically, but the overall tone of the story doesn’t stick. In fact, the novel has a tendency to fall flat. I can count on one hand the amount of interesting things in this novel: who is the father (even though it’s obvious), baby Pearl (she’s a little hellion with spunk), and when Hester tells people off. Besides that this novel can feel very drawn out and endlessly boring.

The descriptions are way too lengthy and feel overwhelming. I get it, Hawthorne; the whole damn room symbolizes twenty different things- CALM DOWN. Analyzing this novel is a pain in the ass because it’s so overtly symbolized to the point that even the characters’ names are symbols. I love symbolism, but this novel took the fun out of it. While it’s easy to bag on symbolism, Hawthorne’s use of snakes, temptation, and the devil are really interesting and are brilliantly done.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 1.75

One of the impressive things about this novel is that there is a lot of character development. I know Hester, Chillingsworth, and Dimmsedale. I know who they are, their hopes, their afflictions, and their pasts and it’s very well-rounded, but it still somehow managed to be boring.
Pearl is my favorite character because she has so much life. She’s a child born out of a “wicked sin”, but she embraces the world around her with open arms and an eagerness that was abhorred at that time. Dimmesdale is your typical hypocrite. Like all novels there is usually an overly zealous believer, but Dimmesdale can’t use God to hide from his sins and has no way of escaping his own internal hell. Plus this man is sick SPOILER he branded and tortured himself continuously SPOILER which is a symbol for living in a personal hell and being both your own jury and executioner (God and Devil), but dang it’s just a little bit too unsettling. Hester is definitely a true role model in this time. She’s strong and willful and there eventually becomes a time when people forget that the A is for adulterer and it becomes a symbol for able or angel, which is great because Hester was everyone’s kicking bag.

Character Scale: 3

The Villain- Chillingworth is best described as a leech. He latches himself onto those around him and sucks them dry and once they are dead he has nothing left to feed off of and slowly withers away.

Villain Scale: 2.75

The best way to describe The Scarlet Letter is Puritan drama. If you don’t know what this novel is about is about then just know that if Puritans had the Jerry Springer this novel would be a perfect contender for a future episode. I do love the ending for this novel. It’s sorrowful and incredibly depressing, but it also felt very final in terms of what you would imagine to happen in this time. This novel has its flaws, but it is a novel that is easy to see why there is merit. Plus my AP shirt from junior year rocks because it’s an ode to this novel.

Plotastic Scale: 2.25

Cover Thoughts: I had to read a really ugly edition, but I do hope to own my own edition of The Scarlet Letter some day and hopefully it’ll be really pretty. 

Have you read any of these classics? What are your thoughts on Margaret Atwood if you've read her? Any recommendations (I'm currently reading The Handmaid's Tale and I want more)? Did you enjoy The Crucible or The Scarlet Letter? Let me know down below in the comments! 


  1. Oh I barely ever read classics. And by "barely ever" I mean...never. 😂 I FEEL BAD ABOUT THAT THOUGH! And I kind of vaguely wanted to read The Scarlet Letter because I loved the Easy A movie, but eeep, after your review I'm reconsidering. ;D It really doesn't sound like my thing, tbh. I'm curious about The Crucible though!

    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    1. I've just started reading classics and I'm really getting into the genre! There's a lot of hidden gems that are usually looked over because of the classics label.I don't recommend going to The Scarlet Letter for classics because it's such a tough classic to love. Definitely try The Crucible. It's a great play!