Analysis The Scarlet Letter

1107 words - 5 pages

Section #1: The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, starts off by introducing how the book was written. The anonymous narrator stumbled upon some manuscripts labeled with a red “A”, all of which happened some 200 years before his time. He decided to write a fictional story about the facts he found in the manuscripts and thus, The Scarlet Letter was born.
The story begins in a Boston Puritan Settlement in the 17th century. Hester Prynne and her young daughter, Pearl, are being led from the town prison, bearing the infamous “scarlet letter”. A man in the crowd said she was being tried for adultery, after her husband left and was supposed to be “lost at sea”, and gave birth to a child. ...view middle of the document...

Frustrated in his revenge, Chillingworth dies a year later. Hester and Pearl leave Boston, and are never heard of again. Many years later, Hester returns alone, still wearing the red “A”, to live in her cottage and resume her charity work. She receives occasional letters from Pearl, who is married now with a family of her own. When Hester dies, she is buried next to Dimmesdale, and the two share one gravestone modestly bearing a red “A”.

Section #2: The essay I found talked a lot about the symbols and underlying meanings of Hawthorne’s story. I have to admit, I didn’t think of any of these as I was readin this, but now that I read through this, it is easily seen that a lot of these make sense. One I thought was interesting was, “Pearl received her name from Hester because, though she is a great treasure, she came at a great price. She exists as a living manifestation of Hester's (and Dimmesdale's) sins. Pearl's existence is the reason Hester is completely ostracized from society, yet, her existence is also the reason Hester's life was not executed for her crimes.(2)” It was interesting to think that the town wanted to kill Hester because of her child, but at the same time, the child is what stopped them from killing her.

Section #3: Nathaniel Hawthorne starts out the book with an anonymous narrator, showing his ambiguity, which comes as an over-all theme in The Scarlet Letter. Another of his writing styles is that of describing the setting to the reader. According to Rusty S., “As Hawthorne describes it, the town is situated precariously between the sea and the great ‘wilderness’ of unsettled America. What lies outside the town is a ‘black forest,’ strongly symbolic of moral absence and evil. Thus the narrator describes a ‘footpath’ that straggled onward into the ‘mystery of the primeval forest. This [forest] hemmed it in so narrowly, and stood so black and dense on either side that, to Hester's mind, it imaged not amiss the moral wilderness in which she had so long been wandering.’ Here we see an almost claustrophobic pressure being evoked, which alludes to not only Hester but also the community of which she is a part, always facing the possibility of moral failure.(1)” Hawthorne uses a lot of...

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