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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Brief overview of novel with prints from 2nd edition.

Trish Main

on 24 January 2013

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Transcript of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Sin -- Guilt -- Shame -- Forgiveness

Revenge -- Punishment -- Penance "Ah, but, let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart." "Wouldst thou avenge thyself
on the innocent babe?" "What should ail me, to harm this misbegotten and miserable babe? The medicine is potent for good; and were it
my child,---yea, mine own, as well as thine!---I could do no better for it." "Hester Prynne, therefore, did not flee.
On the outskirts of the town, within the
verge of the peninsula, but not in close
vicinity to any other habituation, there
was a small thatched cottage." "This learned stranger was exemplary, as regarded, at least, the outward forms of a religious life, and, early after his arrival, had chosen for his spiritual guide the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale." "In fine, Hester Prynne resolved to meet her former husband, and do what might be in her power for the rescue of the victim on whom he had so evidently set his gripe. ...One afternoon, walking with Pearl in a retired part of the peninsula, she beheld the old physician, with a basket on one arm, and a staff in the other hand...." The Scarlet Letter


Nathaniel Hawthorne Frame Story: The framing narrative "sets the scene" for the embedded narrative, giving us a context in which we can read and interpret the text. "Little Pearl--who was as greatly pleased with the gleaming armor as she had been with the glittering frontispiece of the
house--spent some time looking into
the polished mirror of the breastplate." "Thou wast not bold!--thou wast not true! Thou wouldst not promise to take my hand, and mother's hand, to-morrow noontide!" "Hester bade little Pearl run down to the margin of the water, and play with the shells and tangled seaweed, until she should have talked awhile with yonder gatherer of herbs." "The judgment of God is on me. It is too mighty for me to struggle with!"

"Heaven would show mercy, hadst thou but the strength to take advantage of it." "Hast thou sought the whole earth over, there was no one place so secret--no high place nor lowly place, where thou couldst have escaped me,--save on this very scaffold!" Here had been her sin; here, her sorrow; and here was yet to be her penitence. She had returned, therefore, and resumed,--of her own free will, for not the sternest magistrate of that iron period would have imposed it,--resumed the symbol of which we have related so dark a tale. Can they escape the maze? A Narrator: Frame narrative uses a picture frame, the outside of the story, to set up a teller of the tale.
The frame creates the tone of the relationship between the author and the reader. scaffold: raised wooden platform used formerly for the public execution of criminals "She bore in her arms a child, a baby of some three months old." "one token of her shame would but
poorly serve to hide another" "On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth,
surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and
fantastic flourishes of gold-thread, appeared the
letter A." "At the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynne's forehead." "What do we talk of marks and brands, whether on the bodice of her gown, or the flesh of her forehead?" This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die." "It would be greatly for the public behoof, if we women, being of mature age and church-members in good repute, should have the handling of such malefactresses as this Hester Prynne." Written and Published in 1850

SETTING: Boston, 1642-1649 "God gave her into my keeping. I will not give her up! ... I will not lose the child! ... Thou knowest,--for thou has sympathies which these men lack!--thou knowest what is in my heart, and what are a mother's rights, and how much the stronger they are, when that mother has but her child and the scarlet letter! Look thou to it! I will not lose the child!" CUSTOM HOUSE PRISON DOOR Boston women "Why does the minister sit yonder?"

"He waits to welcome thee. Come thou, and entreat his blessing! He loves thee, my little Pearl, and loves thy mother too. Wilt thou not love him? Come! he longs to greet thee! "
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