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The Scarlet Letter: Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2
Transcript of The Scarlet Letter: Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2
Massachusetts Bay Colony
City of Boston
Circa mid 1600s
Reference to Elizabeth I (1558-1603): but not part of story
Death of Governor Winthrop: March 26, 1649
Puritan society: views of morality and behavior
Symbolism: (jail) punishment and (graveyard) death
Rosebush: "sweet moral blossom" [p. 46]
Symbolism: (weeds) ugliness and (rosebush) beauty and morality
Judgmental nature of the crowd
The women [p. 48]
"Beef and ale of their native land"
"A moral diet not a whit more refined"
"Boldness and rotundity of speech"
They felt the sentence was far too light
"Brand of a hot iron on [her] forehead" [p. 49]
"[She] ought to die" [p.49]
Chapter Two (Continued)
The punishment: The Scarlet A [p. 50]
Assigned to wear this for life
Made with "fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold-thread"
"Greatly beyond what was allowed by the sumptuary regulations of the colony"
Note how Hester first attempts to hide the "A" with her baby
"Judging that one token of her shame would but poorly serve to hide another" [p. 50]
Chapter Two (Continued)
Hester's perception while on the scaffold [p. 54ff]
"The whole scene seemed to vanish from her eyes, or, at least, glimmered indistinctly...." [p.54]
"Her native village, in old England" [p. 55]
"Her paternal home' [p. 55]
Her father and mother [p. 55]
"Her own face" [p. 55]
"A man well stricken on years, pale, thin, scholar-like visage...slightly deformed, wth the left should slightly higher than the right" [p. 55]
"A Continental city" [p. 55]
Already noted the jail (punishment), the graveyard (death), the rosebush (sweetness)
"Throng of bearded men...intermixed with women" [p. 45]: narrow-minded and self-righteous Puritans
"Rust", "ugly", and "overgrown" [with weeds] (p. 45): gloom
The town-beadle [p. 49]: stern, unbending Puritanism and its laws
Hester (p. 50ff): beauty, dignity, and grace
The Scarlet "A": adultery? alienation? able? America?