One of the most important novels in classic literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter tackles the subject of adultery, with the notorious Hester Prynne at the forefront of the scandal in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the beginning of the novel, Hester is serving time in prison for having a child out of wedlock and is forced to wear a scarlet A on her clothing at all times, so she cannot run from her sin no matter where she goes.
"'Thou Wast Not Bold! Thou Wast Not True!'"
Madame Bovary is a lurid tale of unremorseful adultery and violent emotions set against the background of the stupefying, boring provincial town of Yonville in Normandy. The book is a biting criticism of entitlement and living beyond one's means.
The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde, written in 1891, is a timeless philosophical classic that is still seen today as an interesting debate on the true meaning of beauty. Basil Hallward, a kind-hearted painter, is inspired by Dorian Grey's unbelievable good looks. While painting a still life of Dorian, Hallward and an acquaintance, Lord Henry Wotton, discuss Dorian's beauty and the idea of perfection. Convinced by their discussion that beauty is the only thing that matters in life, Dorian wishes that he would never age. Instead, he hopes that his painting will age in his stead.
Edith Wharton's novel The House of Mirth follows the social ups and downs of Lily Bart, who is a very attractive woman about to turn 30. At the beginning of the book, she is slated to marry Percy Gryce, seeing as he fits the exact description of the type of bachelor that she is looking for: wealthy and predictable. Yet through a series of missteps, Lily loses her chance with Percy, and must therefore spend some time trying to regain her social standing.
In a series of complicated and complex cycles of births, deaths, marriages, and reunions, Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights encapsulates much of what life was like in 18th-century England for the noble estate owners and members of prestigious social classes. Told through a series of memories from the housekeeper of a nearby manor, the novel details the adoption of Heathcliff, who currently owns the Wuthering Heights manor when the story begins.
The story of Tess, daughter of a poor peddler, is one of heartbreak and sorrow, deception and indecency. When sent to live with a wealthy family, the D'Urbervilles, who are not who they appear to be, Tess endures many hardships and abuse, while trying to make a fortune with the family to whom she believes she is related to. The abuse leads to her getting pregnant by a man named Alec.
Margaret Hale returns home to her family in the rural south of England, after living with a wealthy aunt for 10 years, learning how to become a proper young woman. She is not home for long before her life is uprooted and her family moves to a town called Milton, in Northern England, where her father intends to be a tutor, leaving their Pastoral life, and the Church of England behind.
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne is a classic novel filled with wonder and adventure. The story begins when London native Phileas Fogg attempts to win a wager by attempting to travel around the world in 80 days. Fogg accompanied by his newly hired valet, Jean Passepartout, sets off on his adventure on October 2, 1872.