Friday, April 17, 2009

The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne was published in 1850 and it was this novel that made him famous. It is totally absorbing and wonderful. We are filled with a range of mixed emotions for Hester: sadness, admiration, fear, pity, but never condemnation. Hester Prynne is an outsider and remains one. She holds very deep feelings of love and loyalty, even though they cause her great grief as she raises her child alone.

In the Puritan setting of the novel, an adulterer is usually put to death. In this case, the adulteress Hester Prynne, gets a lighter punishment. She is given a prison sentence with her infant, is put on public display for three hours, and she is forced to wear the letter 'A' on her clothing for the rest of her life.

Page 58:
...... - was that SCARLET LETTER, so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom. It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself.
"She hath good skill at her needle, that's certain," remarked one of her female spectators; "but did ever a woman, before this brazen huzzy, contrive such a way of showing it!....................
"Oh, peace, neighbors, peace!" whispered their youngest companion; "do not let her hear you! Not a stitch in that embroidered letter, but she has felt it in her heart."

Efforts are made to ascertain who is the father of her baby, and she is told that she will be able to remove the scarlet letter if she names him. She steadfastly refuses.
Page 72:
........"And would that I might endure his agony, as well as mine!"

No comments:

Post a Comment