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The Scarlet Letter

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English Group

on 9 October 2014

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Transcript of The Scarlet Letter

What is Characterization?
"The young woman was tall, with a figure of perfect elegance, on a large scale. She had dark and abundant hair, so glossy that it threw off the sunshine with a gleam, and a face which, besides being beautiful from regularity of feature and richness of complexion, had the impressiveness belonging to a marked brow and deep black eyes. She was lady-like, too, after the manner of the feminine gentility of those days; characterized by a certain state and dignity, rather than by the delicate, evanescent, and indescribable grace, which is now recognized as its indication."(Chpt. 2, Paragraph. 10)
Style - Light vs Dark
Hawthorne's Style
The Scarlet Letter
"He was small in stature, with a furrowed visage, which, as yet, could hardly be termed aged. There was a remarkable intelligence in his features, as of a person who had so cultivated his mental part that it could not to mould the physical to itself, and become manifest by unmistakable tokens. Although, by a seemingly careless arrangement of his heterogeneous garb, he had endeavored to conceal or abate the peculiarity, it was sufficiently evident to Hester Prynne, that one of this man's shoulders rose higher than the other."
(Chpt. 3, Paragraph 2)
This characterization explains that Roger Chillingsworth has deformed shoulders, thus symbolizing his distorted soul. This excerpt also indicates how Hester Prynne reacts to this mysterious man.
This characterization of Hester Prynne shows that she is beautiful even after so much suffering, thus proving that she is a confident and strong woman.
A literary device that is used to explain details about a character in a story.
"By its perfect shape, its vigor, and its natural dexterity in the use of all its untried limbs, the infant was worthy to have been brought forth in Eden: worthy to have been left there to be the plaything of the angels after the world's first parents were driven out. The child had a native grace which does not invariably co-exist with faultless beauty; its attire, however simple, always impressed the beholder as if it were the very garb that precisely became it best." (Chpt. 6, Paragraph 2)
This first characterization of Pearl shows her natural beauty and innocence. This is ironic because Pearl is the symbol of adultery; however, Hawthorne characterizes her as a Godly and perfect creature.
What is Diction?
The author's style of word choice in writing.
"Then, however, there was the freshness of the passing year on its exterior, and the cheerfulness, gleaming forth from the sunny windows, of a human habitation, into which death had never entered. It had, indeed, a very cheery aspect, the walls being overspread with a kind of stucco, in which fragments of broken glass were plentifully intermixed; so that, when the sunshine fell aslant-wise over the front of the edifice, it glittered and sparkled as if diamonds had been flung against it by the double handful." (Chpt 7. Paragraph 8)
This scene in which Hester and Pearl go to the Governor's house to convince him to let Pearl stay with Hester shows that sin is in the least expected places by the little bits of glass reflecting on the porch. The illuminated shards of broken glass contrast the darkness of Puritan society, symbolized by the governor's mansion, and the light Hester and Peal bring forth when they arrive. Another contrast is within the Governor's house. The ostentatious display of the house depicts light while contrasts the darkness and dull Puritan society.
What is Syntax?
The term syntax refers not only to the structure of sentences, their types, their uses, their
connection, and the variations authors choose, but also to smaller structures within
What is Style?
Style in literature is the literary element that describes the ways that the author uses words — the author's word choice, sentence structure, figurative language, and sentence arrangement all work together to establish mood, images, and meaning in the text. Style describes how the author describes events, objects, and ideas.
"It was carelessly, at first, like a man chiefly accustomed to look inward, and to whom external matters are of little value and import unless they bear relation to something within his mind." (Chapter 3 Paragraph 3)
The prison and Puritans: “Before this ugly edifice…much overgrown with burdock, pig-weed, apple-peru, and such unsightly vegetation..so early borne the black flower of civilized society, a prison.” (Chapter 1)
The Rosebush: “..was a wild rose-bush, covered…with its delicate gems,..offered their fragrance and fragile beauty…”(Chapter 1, paragraph 2)
"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. It was so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it had all the effect of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel which she wore, and which was of a splendour in accordance with the taste of the age, but greatly beyond what was allowed by the sumptuary regulations of the colony." (Chpt 2. Paragraph 10)
The gold embroidery of the scarlet letter is used to represent light and beauty. As Hester first comes out of the prison, everyone is enchanted by the beauty of the scarlet letter. It naturally attracts everyone to it (light). This also exaggerates the contrast between the beautiful scarlet letter and the dull clothes that the commoners wear. However, on a deeper meaning, it is used to represent the sin and darkness attributed to Hester. The scarlet letter is a sin in disguise as it is a constant reminder to Hester of what she did to cause the judgement of the Puritan community.
“..during that momentous period while Pearl was imbibing her soul from the spiritual world, and her bodily frame from its material of earth. The mother’s impassioned state had been the medium through which were transmitted to the unborn infant the rays of its moral life; and, however white and clear originally, they have taken the deep stains of crimson and gold, the fiery luster, the black shadow, and the untempered light, of the intervening substance..recognize her wild, desperate, defiant mood, the flightiness of her temper..cloud-shapes of gloom and despondency…they were now illuminated by the morning radiance of a young child’s disposition, but, later in the day of earthly existence, might be prolific of the storm and whirlwind.” (Chapter 6, paragraph 3)
“…the symbol was not mere scarlet clothe…but was red-hot with infernal fire, and could be seen glowing all alight, whenever Hester Prynne walked abroad in the night-time…it seared Hester’s bosom so deeply…” (Chapter 5, last paragraph)
"Behind the Governor and Mr. Wilson came two other guests; one, the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, whom the reader may remember, as having taken a brief and reluctant part in the scene of Hester Prynne’s disgrace; and, in close companionship with him, old Roger Chillingworth, a person of great skill in physic, who, for two or three years past, had been settled in the town. " (Chapter 8 Paragraph 2)
"This creed was never taught, for instance, by the venerable pastor, John Wilson, whose beard, white as a snow-drift, was seen over Governor Bellingham’s shoulder; while its wearer suggested that pears and peaches might yet be naturalized in the New England climate, and that purple grapes might possibly be compelled to flourish, against the sunny garden-wall." (Chapter 8 Paragraph 1)
Hawthorne uses long syntax to point out the details of his characters. His lengthy descriptive sentences emphasize the importance of the people he is describing. In this passage, the importance and greatness of John Wilson is pointed out.
"Pearl, looking at this bright wonder of a house began to caper and dance, and imperatively required that the whole breadth of sunshine should be stripped off its front, and given her to play with. 'No, my little Pearl!' said her mother; 'thou must gather thine own sunshine. I have none to give thee!' " (Chpt 7. Paragraph 9)
Pearl is seen as a character that represents the truth and the light. She is drawn to the light and the sun, as the sun is drawn to her, thus showing how she represents the light in contrast to her mother. Hester on the other hand represents the darkness because of the sin she created (affair between herself and Dimmesdale) as she is always portrayed in the shadows and the darkness. This shoes the contrast between Hester and Pearl as Hester can not give Pearl the light as she so desires.
Hawthorne creates antithesis by using parallel structure when introducing Dimmesdale and Chillingworth. A contrast of the two men are shown through a parallelism of words. Dimmesdale is portrayed as aloof while Chillingworth is portrayed as sociable.
Hawthorne uses pessimistic, dark diction to describe the prison of the prison. By using words and phrases to describe the prison such as “[dark] aspect to its beetle-browed and gloomy front”, “ugly edifice”, and “unsightly vegetation”, Hawthorne brings out the unappealing factors of the prison door. On the other hand, the rosebush beside the prison door is being described as “fragile beauty” and “sweet moral blossom”. The prison is the “black flower of civilized society” and the rose bush is the “delicate gem”. With this diction, the reader can note that the prison symbolizes sin and darkness while the rosebush symbolizes forgiveness.
Hawthorne uses painful diction to describe the scarlet letter’s influence on Hester. To Hester, the scarlet letter was “red-hot” with “infernal-fire” and “seared” her. This diction emphasizes the pain that Hester feels from society constantly reminding her of her wrongdoings and punishing her for her sins. The tormented diction stresses that society is branding the scarlet letter on her and making her sin a part of her forever.

Hawthorne uses contrasting diction to highlight the two sides of Pearl’s personality. His diction portrays the romantic elements as he depicts Pearl through earthly and spiritual matters, or dark (sins) and light (hope/purity). He describes her as “fiery luster” of “crimson and gold”, which sounds evil, but juxtaposes it by describing her with “morning radiance”. Throughout Chapter 6, Hawthorne uses innocent, bright diction that describes Pearl as beautiful, yet he uses heavy, gloomy diction to describe her as having possesed some kind of demonic charm.
This passage is composed of mainly secondary structures with "It was careless" being the only primary structure. Primary structures are made up of “an initial noun phrase, a verb phrase, and a final noun phrase”, while secondary structures are descriptive phrases that make the sentence more vivid. The primary structure helps us understand what is happening while the second structures help us visualize the expression on Chillingworth's face.
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