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Introduction to The Scarlet Letter

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Sergio Yanes

on 28 September 2014

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Transcript of Introduction to The Scarlet Letter

Introduction to
The Scarlet Letter

Background on Nathaniel Hawthorne, Romantic Literature, and Puritan Life in America
Nathaniel
Hawthorne

Romanticism
The Scarlet Letter
Book Facts
Why Puritans?
Main Characters
Published in 1850
Hawthorne
thought the Puritans' misguided piety was their sin, and their hypocrisy was their undoing.
Hester Prynne
What to Look For
Emotions
Elements of the Genre
Symbolic characters
Influenced by
Transcendentalism
a protest against the general state of culture and society
1770-1880
In America, usually tied with the Gothic
Life
1804-1864
Famous Peers
Herman Melville
Famous Works
The Scarlet Letter
The House of Seven Gables
The Marble Faun
Twice-Told Tales
Henry David Thoreau
Ralph Waldo Emerson
President Franklin Pierce
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Focused on passion
Nature as a strong symbol
Death a frequent outcome
Centered on the individual
and the human heart
Thematic Focus
Symbols
The supernatural
Stylistic Elements
Lofty diction
origin: Harvard?
The ideal spiritual state
is one that transcends the physical and empirical
Realized only through the
individual
's intuition, rather than through doctrines of established religion
Philosophy:
(Look familiar??)
Follows the Enlightenment
(stronger than reason)
Light vs. Dark
Movement
Good vs. Evil
Guilt
Society vs. Nature
The struggle of the individual
Setting: Puritan Boston and a nearby Puritan village
(1642-1649)
Example: In 1655, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed to repress pageantry
Set up a theocracy in the New World, where church officials regulated laws, and only church members had political rights; dissenters were driven out.
Shameful connection:
great(x4)-grandfather was a presiding judge at the 1692 Salem witch trials

(the only judge who never repented!)
Added a 'w' to his name as a result (originally 'Hathorne')
Hawthorne was also critical of
sumptuary laws
laws intended to regulate consumption, and reinforce moral standards
Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale
Pearl (Hester's daughter)
Dr. Roger Chillingworth
(and many others, too!)
Writer, Diplomat
“The Grand Truth about Nathaniel Hawthorne. He says NO! in thunder; but the Devil himself cannot make him say yes.”– Herman Melville
(focused on reason and empiricism)
Full transcript