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Scarlet Letter Historical Background
Transcript of Scarlet Letter Historical Background
Hawthorne as a Writer
-Friends with Emerson and Thoreau (transcendentalists)
-Published other books and stories before The Scarlet Letter that didn't receive much attention
-Wrote some Gothic fiction (combines horror and romance)
Hawthorne and Politics
-Had an enthusiam for Democratic Politics
-Was skeptical of transcendentalist view point (idealistic, hopeful view)
-Felt "alienated and intimidated by" Puritans
So...now that you know about the history....
Reading a text for its contextual significance.
This would include information about the author, his or
her historical moment, or the systems of meaning available
at the time of writing.
Nathaniel Hawthorne: Early years
-Lived in Salem, Massachusetts with his mother for many years.
-Mother was pregnant BEFORE she was married
-Absent father--was a sailor and died at sea when Hawthorne was very young
-Father's family came from a Puritan background
-An ancestor was a judge during the Salem Witch Trials.
-Lived and went to school in Maine for many years
-Appreciated hunting, fishing, walking, and skating
-Lived in Brook Farm, an experimental Utopia
-Worked in a Custom House (a government building that processed paperwork) and became bored/frustrated with it
The Scarlet Letter
-Inspired when Hawthorne was working in the Custom House
- Addresses spiritual and moral issues
-A mix of history and imagination
-outraged Puritanical readers of the day
-Published in 1850
Connect what you've learned to "The Custom House" and chapter 1