The Scarlet Letter Project. Erica Harter Period A/B The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne.
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The Scarlet Letter
By Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American author. He was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on July 4, 1804 into a family with a long New England history. Nathaniel’s father, a sea captain, died when Nathaniel was only four. He live with his mother and his uncle, Robert Manning, paid the finance for Nathaniel to attend Bowdoin College in 1821. After graduating college in 1824, Nathaniel spent most of his time reading and writing. In 1828, he published his first novel “Fanshawe.” This book did not receive a lot of attention. Nathaniel’s friend published his book “Twice-Told Tales,” that was a success. In 1842 he and Sophia Peabody were married at her parent's home in Boston in July 1842. He and Sophia had 3 children. Nathaniel and Sophia moved to Salem and Sophia found an “A” in the attic that led him to write his famous book, “The Scarlet Letter.” Hawthorne died on May 19, 1864 in Plymouth, New Hampshire when his health began to fail him. Edgar Allen Poe stated , "Mr. Hawthorne's distinctive trait is invention, creation, imagination, originality—a trait which, in the literature of fiction, is positively worth all the rest.”
When Roger Chillingworth sends his wife, Hester Prynne, to America, she meets a new lover, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Dimmesdale is an elderly Puritan minister. This is a man whom grows sick over his guilt.
Hester and Dimmesdale have an affair and soon have a child name Pearl. While Hester stands on a scaffold in front of all the towns people, she does not reveal that Dimmesdale is the child's father. Dimmesdale was a part of the church and no one would notice him going to see Hester in prison. He found ways to see her without there being any suspicion he was the father. Dimmesdale walked around as though he did not even know his own child.
Dimmesdale started to become very sick because he was guilty. He was a coward. He is only worried about what the town will think of him. He watched as Hester stood on the scaffold and took all of the public humiliation. He later meets Hester in the forest and they plan to run away together. Hester states, “But thou shalt leave it all behind thee! It shall not cumber thy steps, as thou treadest along the forest path; neither shalt thou freight the ship with it, if thou prefer to cross the sea. Leave this wreck and ruin here where it hath happened. Meddle no more with it! Begin all anew!” (178) Before this could happen he revels on the scaffold that he is Hester’s lover. He pulls off his shirt to reveal an “A” on his chest. “With a conclusive motion, he tore away the ministerial band from before his breast. It was revealed!” (228)
In this novel, Hester Prynne is the protagonist. There are multiple conflicts, and this one is against the townspeople. She is released from prison and becomes a seamstress. Throughout chapters 5, Hester begins her work making clothing for others. Hester, however, is not permitted to make any wedding clothing because of the crime she has committed.
Hester is not allowed to make any clothing for weddings. Because she committed adultery, it was against the Puritan’s beliefs for her to make their marriage clothing. “But it is not recorded that, in a single instance, her skill was called in aid to embroider the white veil which was to cover the pure blushes of a bride. The exception indicated the ever-relentless rigor with which society frowned upon her sin.” (76) It is inappropriate for any bride to wear the merchandise that has been touched by the hands of Hester. This leaves Hester to feel more gloom of the crime she has committed.
Although Hester cannot make clothing for brides, her products show up on other persons in the town. “Her needlework was seen on the ruff of the Governor; military men wore it on their scarfs, and the minister on his band; it decked out the baby’s little cap; it was shut up to be mildewed and moulder away, in the coffins of the dead.” (76) Hester showed her great work by placing it on other people than brides gowns and veils.
Recognition of our own weakness may ultimately make us stronger and more sympathetic to the weaknesses of others. Some let their sin bring them down, but Hester used her sin to bring happiness upon other people. She used her sin for good.
Hester used her weakness to make others stronger. She made clothing for all the towns people such as the governor. “Her needlework was seen on the ruff of the Governor; military men wore it on their scarfs, and the minister on his band; it decked out the baby’s little cap; it was shut up to be mildewed and moulder away, in the coffins of the dead.” (76) Hester stood as an example of what children in the town should not do. Everyone who had problems in the town went to her for her. She used her knowledge to help other people.
Being aware of your own weakness may let us understand the weakness of others. Hester used her weakness not only as an example for others, but a reason for them not to commit sins. Hester used her knowledge to help others with their problems. She used her great needle work to make clothes for the towns people.
This novel, The Scarlet Letter, was very interesting although it would not be my first selection. I like this book because not only is it written very well, but it teaches many lessons to young readers. This novel also gives history on strict how the laws were back then. I felt that the book taught me to tell the truth and reveal the sins or mistakes I will make throughout my life.
Throughout the book, Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne keep it a secret that Dimmesdale was Pearls father. Dimmesdale becomes sick with guilt. He lets Hester take all the blame for having the child, but he secretly has an “A” on his chest. I can relate to this because I use to get my sister in trouble. I would soon become guilty for letting her take all of the blame.
If I were going to recommend this novel to anyone, it would be young adults. It gives them history, but also teaches us to take responsibility for our actions. It would teach them to tell the truth and take your consequence rather than living with guilt.