Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter
1620-1628 1638 1642 1645 1649 1655 1692 1850 In the novel: -Ch. 1-4 public scaffold scene Pearl=baby in mother’s arms -Scene at Governor Bellingham’s Pearl=3 years old -Novel’s climax at scaffold Pearl=7 years old -Last Chapter of novel (sort of) Puritanism/Scarlet Letter Timeline • In History: • -Pilgrims/Puritans come • to America • -Harvard founded-religious higher education • -Christmas Celebration outlawed by Puritans • -Salem Witch Trials: dissent, love triangles, landlust=breakdown of Puritan theocracy ; w/Judge John Hathorne Hawthorne publishes Scarlet Letter (200 years later, during Romantic Era, so written in romantic style, but with Puritan influences and themes)
American Romanticism • Authors: Washington Irving, Edgar Allen Poe (more Gothic/Dark Romantic), Hawthorne Contemporary with Transcendentalists— Emerson and Thoreau • Valued feelings and intuition over reason Reaction against classicism (rationalism) • Valued individual freedom and worth of individual • Explore subconscious; pre-Freudian psychology, faith in inner experience • More individualistic, less societal; about finding yourself • Seems ancient, traditional, gothic, pastoral • Role of Frontier, critical of society—escape to nature to gain moral and spiritual development • Gothic elements (darkness, considers conflicts between good and evil, sin, insanity, psychological effects, etc.) • Power of imagination • Beauty in exotic, supernatural, myth/legend/folklore
1804-Childhood = College 1821-1825 = Isolation 1825-1837 = 1837 = 1839 = 1842 = 1846-1849 = 1850 = 1851 = 1852 = 1853-1860 = 1860 = 1863 = 1864 = Salem: born, father dies, family poor, single mom, adds w Bowdoin, Maine w/F. Pierce, goofed off, mediocre student “dismal chamber” to learn how to write well Twice Told Tales, about secrets of violence in heart Engaged; utopian farm-Brook Farm w/Transcendentalists Marries Sophia, moves to Concord where famous writers job at Custom House; mom dies, loses job Scarlet Letter $ and success “hellfire story” House of Seven Gables and Snow Image Blithedale Romance U.S. Counsel at Liverpool, Marble Faun—travel log Pierce defeated; Lincoln=Civil War, H. out of place journals Our Old Home dies (of solitude, according to Emerson) Hawthorne Bio Info
Participant 1st person pronouns Narrator=character Innocent eye Stream of consciousness Life stages Immediacy/perception Approach another character Eye witness Summarize and mediate Trustworthy? Conclusions and opinions may be inaccurate Own mind only Non-participant 3rd person pronouns Omniscient enters minds of all characters Selective omniscient – one or a few characters Objective = camera or fly on a wall Describes characters thoughts, feelings, actions Close view to larger perspective Commentary Limited omniscient – distance from other characters, more unified Objective – not directly influenced by author’s statement Point of View
Adultery Alienation Initiation Guilt Hypocrisy v. Integrity Fate v. Free Will Individual Rights v. Society Use of Allegory Moral Pride v. Intellect Themes
Rose/rosebush Letter A Light/Dark Others Symbols
“The Custom House” General Info. • Custom House: Government building where customs are collected and where ships are cleared to enter or leave county (by water) • Hawthorne worked there for 27 months 1847-49 as surveyor (pretty much everyone else’s boss) • “The Custom House” is both factual and fictional—he did work at one and tells stories of real people, but made up some of the stories, esp. the Letter A and Hester Prynne • “The Custom House” is intro. to Scarlet Letter—included for $ and more text, but also to set up explanation why he wrote it (fictional) and themes of isolation, alienation, etc.
Custom House Picture From first page of "The Custom-House" chapter in the 1878 edition of The Scarlet Letter published in 1878 by James R. Osgood and Co. in Boston.