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The Setting- The Scarlet Letter

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Aimee Landestoy

on 27 May 2011

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Transcript of The Setting- The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter Chillingworth and Dimmesdale's Home Description and Quote Quote:
Chapter 9: The Leech; Pg. 110 bottom of page
" Here, the pale clergyman piled up his library, rich with parchment-bound folios of the Fathers, and the lore of Rabbis, and monkish erudition, of which the Protestant divines, even while they vilified and decried that class of writers... On the other side of the house, old Roger Chillingworth arranged his study and laboratory... but provided with a distilling apparatus, and the means of compounding drugs and chemicals, which the practised alchemist knew well how to turn to purpose...these two learned persons... each in his own domain, yet familiarly passing from one apartment to the other, and bestowing a mutual and not incurious inspection into one another’s business. A building that houses both Chillingworth and Dimmesdale and is outfitted to suit their respective needs. One half is a science lab, where Chillingworth arranges experiments and concoctions; and the other is a libray-apartment for Dimmesdale, a minister, outfitted with religious documents Dimmesdale/Chillingworth's home is special because it symbolizes a change in society that Nathaniel Hawthorne has experienced. Chillingworth is a man of science, a doctor; and Dimmesdale is a man of religion. Both living in the same house show a balence they have and an upcoming change in society form the largely religious focused group, which ideally regards science as inferior, to a more rational, science centered culture, one similar to today. This change is shown through both aspects of society living under one roof. Explanation of Setting: Hester’s Cottage and It's Surroundings Description and Quote An abandoned cottage located by the shore that serves as Hester home throughout the novel. The view across the water displays the forest and covered hills to the west. Hester's cottage is placed on purpose outside of the town, alienated, and contains sterile soil around.

Chapter 5: Hester at Her Needle; Pgs. 71-72
“A clump of scrubby trees, such as alone grew on the peninsula, did not so much conceal the cottage from view, as seem to denote that here was some object which would fain have been, or at least ought to be, concealed.” Being alienated from society, Hester was meant not to get back her reputation. THe location is of the cotttage, being outside of town by the shore, is significant because it suggests Hester and Pearls's connection to nature and their status as social outcasts. It is suggested that the cottage should be out if sight, "invisible" but it was not. She is sometimes notcied by people who buy her clothing and curious children passing by. The mention of "sterile" soil suggests that she can also be considered“infertile” of producing an innocent child.

The cottage has been abandoned twice, once by the settler and once by Hester. At the end of the novel, when Hester returns after several years, the door is decayed, allowing Hester to open the door with ease.
Hester “revisits her past” and is ABLE to open the door with ease. She resumes her lifestyle doing charity work. Explanation of Setting: Group 1: Setting
By Andrew Crespo, Aimee Landestoy, Prince Patrick, Tatiana Fenner, and Jennifer Payan The utopian society that the Puritans had hoped for
was truly not possible and therefore they realized that
they would have to create a cemetery and a prison in order for them to continue as a society.
"A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes. The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison. In accordance with this rule, it may safely be assumed that the forefathers of Boston had built the first prison-house, somewhere in the vicinity of Cornhill, almost as seasonably as they marked out the first burial-ground, on Isaac Johnson’s lot, and round about his grave, which subsequently became the nucleus of all the congregated sepulchers in the old church-yard of King’s Chapel." Quote And Description
Chapter 5: Hester at Her Needle; Pg. 71

“On the outskirts of the town, within the verge of the peninsula, but not in close vicinity to any other habitation, there was a small thatched cottage. It had been built by an earlier settler, and abandoned, because the soil about it was too sterile for cultivation, while its comparative remoteness put it out of the sphere of that social activity which already marked the habits of the emigrants. It stood on the shore, looking across a basin of the sea at the forest-covered hills, towards the west. A clump of scrubby trees, such as alone grew on the peninsula, did not so much conceal the cottage from view, as seem to denote that here was some object which would fain have been, or at least ought to be, concealed.” Explanation of Setting:
The forest symbolizes the natural setting in which Hester and many of the characters throughout The Scarlet Letter feel most comfortable. It is where all secrets are revealed but still concealed from society. It parallels to the significance of a confession booth, where nothing but the truth is put under a spotlight. The forest also represents the lifting of a heavy burden, when Hester literally moves her scarlet letter from her chest and lets her hair down, as she feels at ease and content within herself and nature. Chapter 16: A Forest Walk; Pgs. 165-167
“The road, after the two wayfarers had crossed from the peninsula to the mainland, was no other than a footpath. It straggled onward into the mystery of the primeval forest. This hemmed it in so narrowly, and stood so black and dense on either side, and disclosed such imperfect glimpses of the sky above, that, to Hester’s mind, it imaged not amiss the moral wilderness in which she had so long been wandering. The day was chill and sombre. Overhead was a gray expanse of cloud, slightly stirred, however, by a breeze; so that a gleam of flickering sunshine might now and then be seen at its solitary play along the path. This flitting cheerfulness was always at the farther extremity of some long vista through the forest.” The Forest The Beach The Cemetery The Prison Explanation of Setting:
The beach is another natural setting in which the characters feel most comfortable. Being that Hester’s home is alongside the shore, it shows that she is closer to nature than she is to society. The waves represents the washing away of sins, as well as the ridding of something evil. It is a level in which Pearl must cross over at one point in order to recognize and feel comfortable with her own mother. The beach also represents the lifting of a heavy burden, just like the forest, when Hester breaks the promise of concealing Chillingworth’s identity. Description and Quote: Works Cited
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam, 1999. Print. Explanation of Setting: The Prison itself represents the stoic and hard way-of-religious-life that Puritans endured. The prison door made of strong oak represents the the strength but at the same time the hostility of the puritans the sharp
ice-like characteristics, the iron spikes that studded the door.
The cemetery it seems like after it was created the idea that death happens to everyone also seemed to crush their dreams of a utopian society and therefore creating the gray-colored Puritans. The Govenor's Mansion Description and Quote Explanation of Setting Bright environment, organized/precise, happier, bigger

The exterior is the complete opposite of the interior. It appears to be crumbling and worn down; decaying to pieces. While the interior is a much brighter and cleaner environment.

One symbolic view of the mansion is that this house of law and precise design is gettting distorted by Pearl's presence wandering about and dressed in teh appearance of th scarlet letter. She's dressed in a "crimson velvet tunic" , similar to th color red like the "A" on Hester's clothes. Pearl then convinced to go to the garden and wants a red rose she finds; the garden is a place where she feels she relates to like in the first chapter when the rose blossoms. Chapter 7: The Govenor's Hall; Pg 91-92

"They reached the dwelling of Govenor Bellingham. This was a large wooden house, built in a fashion of which ther are specimens still extant in the streets of our lders towns; now mossgrown, crumbling to decay, and melancholy at heart with the many sorrowful or joyful occurences, remembered or forgotten, that have happened and passed away within their dusky chambers....."

Unique Aspects:
(pg 92)
INTERIOR---->"the walls being overspread with the kind of stucco, in which fragmnts of brokn glass wereplentifully intermixed; so that, when th sunshine flll aslant-wise over the front of the edifice, it glittered and sparkled as if diamonds had been lung against it by th double handful."
EXTERIOR----->"The freshness of the passing year on its exterior and the cheerfulnss, gleaming forth from the sunny windows, oof a human habitation into which death had never entered." The Public Square Explanation of Setting:
The Public Square has transformed from being
a place where everyone could meet publicly and
discuss their lives to Hester Prynne's center
of suffering. Due to her strength and her ability to overcome
these challenges, she has turned the market place around into
a place where she proudly displays her Scarlet Letter. This is an
excellent early scene where Hester is displaying the primarily
male trait of strength. Also, major plot developments happen
here, and it turns into an environment where the truth is
brought out, both from the minister and the initial
unveiling of the scarlet letter. Chapter 2: The Marketplace; Pgs.48-49
"In fact, this scaffold constituted a portion of a penal machine, which now, for two or three generations past, has been merely historical and traditionary among us, but was held, in the old time, to be as effectual an agent in the promotion of good citizenship, as ever was the guillotine among the terrorists of France. It was, in short, the platform of the pillory; and above it rose the framework of that instrument of discipline, so fashioned as to confine the human head in its tight grasp, and thus hold it up to the public gaze. The very idea of ignominy was embodied and made manifest in this contrivance of wood and iron. There can be no outrage, methinks, against our common nature—whatever be the delinquencies of the individual,—no outrage more flagrant than to forbid the culprit to hide his face for shame; as it was the essence of this punishment to do. In Hester Prynne’s instance, however, as not unfrequently in other cases, her sentence bore, that she should stand a certain time upon the platform, but without undergoing that gripe about the neck and confinement of the head, the proneness to which was the most devilish characteristic of this ugly engine. Knowing well her part, she ascended a flight of wooden steps, and was thus displayed to the surrounding multitude, at about the height of a man’s shoulders above the street. " Description and Quote:
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