Scarlet Letter Project Based on the Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Rachel McNicklePd AB
Nathaniel Hawthorne Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts on July 4th, 1804. Nathaniel’s original last name was “Hathorne” which he later changed to “Hawthorne” to separate himself of his family’s history. Nathaniel’s father passed away when Nathaniel was young which caused his mother to become very protective and push him towards isolated activites. This led Nathaniel to writing. Nathaniel went on to attend Bowdoin College in 1825. After graduating college, he settled in Salem. In 1842, Nathaniel married Sophia Peabody. The couple then moved to Concord, Massachusetts and eventually had three children together, Una, Julian, and Rose. Once settled, Nathaniel continued writing. Hawthorne wrote many successful short stories including “"My Kinsman, Major Molineux", "Roger Malvin's Burial", and "Young Goodman Brown“. Upon his return to Salem in 1845 and was appointed a position of the Boston Custom House by President James Polk. When Zachary Taylor became president, Nathaniel was removed. Due to this, he dedicated all of his time to his now-famous novel, The Scarlet Letter. This novel was a complete success and is said to be an “inevitable read for most high school English classes.” The book’s success drove Hawthorne to a life of writing. He went on to write multiple other novels such as The Blithedale Romance. Sadly, Nathaniel Hawthorne passed away on May 19, 1964 in Plymouth, New Hampshire. He had suffered a long illness and was buried in Concord, Massachusetts. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americannovel/timeline/hawthorne.html http://www.egs.edu/library/nathaniel-hawthorne/biography/ http://www.gradesaver.com/author/hawthorne/ http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/book-review-scarlet-letter
Character Profile: Hester Prynne Hester Prynne is the protagonist of The Scarlet Letter. Hester is a young woman married to an elderly man named Roger Chillingworth. Roger Chillingworth sends his wife, Hester, to Boston, Massachusetts to find a home for the couple where they can start fresh. Roger was to stay back and finish a few things and then follow Hester when he was done. However, Roger failed to come to America after her. While in Boston, Hester meets and falls in love with Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. They have an affair which results in pregnancy and the birth of her daughter, Pearl. Hester is then publicly punished on the scaffold for committing adultery. She wears a scarlet letter “A” for punishment of her sin. Hester embraces her letter and stitches it with gold. When she was asked who the man was, she refuses to tell. Hester is then put in jail, and finally Roger returns. Roger poses as a doctor who is supposed to visit Hester in jail . There Hester tells Roger, “thou knowest that I was frank with thee. I felt no love, nor feigned any.” (Page 69). Hester married Roger because it was convenient (Page 69). Her true love was for Dimmesdale. Once she is released from jail, Hester and Pearl move to the outskirts of town. She remains strong while the town alienates her. She also fights for the right to keep her daughter. Hester is an independent women, who supports herself and her daughter by selling her work as a seamstress to people as important as the governor. Hester also donates her work to the poor members of town. She “had no selfish ends, nor lived in any measure for her own profit and enjoyment…” (Page 234)
Conflict Analysis Hester Prynne faces many conflicts during The Scarlet Letter as an adulteress. She faces is the risk of losing her daughter, Pearl. This conflict takes place in the Governor’s mansion in the presence of Reverend Wilson and Dimmesdale. The Governor informs Hester that Pearl may be taken from her because the townspeople feel Hester is not fit to be a mother. He states, “The point hath been weightily discussed, whether we, that are of authority and influence, do well discharge our consciences by trusting an immortal soul, such as there is in yonder child, to the guidance of one who hath stumbled and fallen, amid the pitfalls of this world…” He continues, “Were it not, thinkest thou, for thy little one’s temporal and eternal welfare that she be taken out of thy charge…?’ ” (Page 101) They believe Pearl should be raised by someone else. Hester instantly makes her case at the thought of having Pearl taken from her. Hester believes that Pearl should not be taken away. She believes that she can be a great mother to her daughter and teach Pearl from her mistakes so that she never makes the same. Hester looks at Dimmesdale, and he talks the Governor into letting Pearl live with Hester. He believed that Pearl would be raised better under the circumstances. The conflict is motivation for Hester to be a better mother to Pearl. This conflict also demonstrates the bond between Hester and Dimmesdale. Although, the day ended well for Hester, it could’ve taken a turn for the wrong. By speaking for Hester, Dimmesdale could’ve revealed himself as Pearl’s father.
Theme When I think of something being destroyed I tend to think of a fire or a tornado, but I fail to recognize that it is not only physical things that destroy a person. An important theme of The Scarlet Letter is revenge and hatred can destroy truly destroy someone. Dimmesdale acted as coward in the novel and did not confess his sin. However, when Roger Chillingworth came to town, he made sure that Dimmesdale would be properly punished. The hate that Roger had for Dimmesdale became apparent to the reader of the novel. “The intellect of Roger Chillingworth had now a sufficiently plain path before it. It was not, indeed, precisely that which he had laid out for himself to tread. Calm, gentle, passionless, as he appeared, there was yet, we fear, a quiet depth of malice, hitherto latent, but active now, in this unfortunate old man, which led him to imagine a more intimate revenge than any mortal had ever wreaked upon an enemy.” (Page 127) Roger had come off as a calm man, but now his hatred had changed him. Dimmesdale could no longer take the guilt he was feeling, or knowing that Roger was seeking revenge. He couldn’t bear the idea of living if everyone knew his sin and hated him for it. This all together destroyed Dimmesdale in the end. The Scarlet Letter had many themes, but I believe one of the more important themes was revenge and hatred can destroy someone. Dimmesdale could not live with his sin anymore. In the end, it all took a toll on Dimmesdale. Now, the time I think of destruction, revenge and hatred will be the first to come to mind.
My Personal Reflection The Scarlet Letter would not have been my first choice of reading. However, I came to enjoy the novel. I liked that The Scarlet Letter had an interesting plot and a large amount of symbolism. I also enjoyed the book’s characters. The book contained characters and situations that were easy to relate to like Hester being alienated or Dimmesdale feeling cowardly. I did not like the dialect of the people in the book. It made it more complicated to understand. The Scarlet Letter taught me that going against what others think isn’t the end of the world. It taught me to do what I want and stand by my decision no matter what others say. Hester had committed adultery and although she was judged by the entire town, she remained strong and did not give in to them. Hester’s character was defined by how she reacted to the community, which was in an honorable way. Her character has taught to ignore things that aren’t positive. I can easily relate to Hester in this novel. Hester had went against the crowd and done something that no one else had done. In certain situations, I am like Hester. I enjoy being different and standing apart sometimes. People may say terrible things, but I try to act how Hester did and ignore them. I am also like Hester because she was independent. Although sometimes I have to depend on my parents, I try to be as independent as possible. I would recommend this novel to young teenagers. High school is a hard time for many kids because of bullying. Many kids are made fun of, judged, or left out everyday at school which is exactly what happened to Hester. I believe by reading this novel, they can witness how Hester handled herself and use her as an example next time they are bullied.