external image Scarlet_Letter.full.jpg

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne


Delicious, Nutricious, Fabulicious aka: Stefani Walker, Chelsea Odom, and Kelsie Treadway

The Introduction


The Custom House is a way for Nathaniel Hawthorne to introduce not only the actual Scarlet Letter, but also himself into the novel. It lets the reader know how deeply the remains of the Scarlet Letter effected him as he found the small red parcel of cloth and realized the importance of developing and releasing the story of it to the world.

"This old town of Salem...possesses, or did possess, a hold on my affections, the force of which I have never realised during my seasons of actual residence here" (Hawthorne 274).
I, Chelsea Odom, used to live in California and while I was there I never noticed the little things. I moved to North Carolina in 1999 and have gained a homesickness for the ocean, warm weather, and closeness of family. Whenever I return to California the area possesses me in the similar way that Salem drew in Hawthorne.


"It seemed to me...that I expearianced a sensation not alltogether physical, yet almost so, as of burning heat; and as if the letter were not of red cloth, but red-hot iron" (Hawthorne 297).
In chapter 4, The Interview, Hawthorne describes how "the scarlet letter, which forthwith seemed to scorch into Hester's breast, as if it had been red-hot" just as he felt this same burning sensation in his own breast as he held the letter against his chest for the first time (Hawthorne 26).

"But the object that most drew my attention to the mysterious package was a certain affair of fine red cloth, much worn and faded. There were traces about it of gold embroidery, which, however, was greatly frayed and defaced; so that none, or very little, of the glitter was left" (Hawthorne 296).
This quote comes from the Custom House where Hawthorne discovered the mysterious package containing a scarlet letter. It could provide some foreshadowing to why the scarlet letter was discovered in an obscure place and in a package. It could mean that the Hester was finally granted eternal clemency for her sin and therefore removed her scarlet "A" and sent it away. She would finally be removed from society's hatred and derogatory actions toward her and her daughter, Pearl.


Chapter 2




Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) - Green Day

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road

Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time

(This reflects on how Hester is handed a situation and she begins to reflect on where her life has taken her and the position she now finds herself in. At the end of her flashback she realizes that the letter is her reality and begins her journey of acceptance on the platform. That is what the song refers to in the lines highlighted.)


It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time

Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it's worth it was worth all the while

(These lines directly reflect her flashback and the scenes she sees play out in her mind. Of a time when she was innocent and "in good health and good time".)


It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.


(On the stand she accepts this as her fate but it also comes as a shock. Her old comforts are nomore. "But in the end its right" forshadows the selfless person she becomes later in the novel because of this stigma.)

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.



Chapter 3


The Recognition

1) The title could refer to Hester Prynne recognizing her husband on the outskirts of the crowd.
"Very soon,however, his look became keen and penetrative. A writhing horror twisted itself across his features, like a snake gliding swiftly over them, and making one little pause, with all its wreathed intervolutions in open sight" (Hawthorne 14).
2) This title could be the recognition made by Roger Chillingworth (Hesters husband) when he recognizes Hester and the reason she is standing on the scaffold.
"While this passed, Hester Prynne had been standing on her pedestal, still with a fixed gaze towards the stranger; so fixed a gaze, that, at moments of intense absorbtion, all other objects in the visible world seemed to vanish, leaving only him and her" (Hawthorne 16).
3) This title also holds true to Hester and her husband's recognition to the threat at hand if he is discovered to be her husband.
"When he found the eyes of Hester Prynne fastened on his own, and saw that she appeared to recognize him, he slowly and calmly raised his finger, made a gesture in the air, and laid it on his lips" (Hawthorne 14).
4) In another matter the title could connect to Mr. Dimmesdale's recognition of Hester as his partner in crime. He doesn't push her to confess who the man she committed adultry with is, and when first reading this section it seems strange that he would not push further for information if he is trying to get her appeal.



Chapter 6


external image good_and_evil.jpgThis picture represents Pearl because the red is a symbol of the demonic undertones in Pearls character while the white is a symbol of her innocence and purity. The gold in the center embodies her true angelic essence, the potental she holds and the golden glow she gives off to the people around her.
"We have yet hardly spoken of the infant, that little creature, whose innocent life had sprung, by the inscrutable decree of Providence, a lovely and immortal flower. . .the growth, and the beauty that became everyday more brilliant, and the intelligence that threw its quivering sunshine over the tiny features of this child!" (Hawthorne 41).
"It was a face, fiendlike, full of smiling malice, yet bearing the semblance of features that she had known full well, though seldom with a smile, and never with malice in them. It was as if an evil spirit possessed the child, and had just then peeped forth in mockery" (Hawthorne 48).


Chapter 7


The underlying conflict between Hester and Pearl is that Hester has a great love for Pearl, but she also has a strange fear of Pearl's knowledge of her crime. In the "impish" looks that Pearl gives Hester, she knows that Pearl is not a naive child. As the quote exemplifies, Hester realizes the depth of the burning stigma on her bosom, and that she cannot provide Pearl with a true example of happiness. There is a darkness surrounding Hester as long as she wears the Scarlet Letter, while Pearl gives off a glow of innocence. This darkness, Hester realizes, could never contribute to the happiness brought on by Pearl's light. Therefore, Pearl must create her own happiness and her own light. Similarly, people today who seek clinical help for their drepression rely heavily on medication to improve their mood, however they must ultimately find an inner strength and light to bring themselves true happiness.


Chapter 8

Hester is not an unfit mother. From the beginning she has cared for nothing but her child. She has only Pearl left in her life and devotes her talents and time to her. When confronted by the Governer in chaper 8 as to weather Hester should keep her little Pearl, Hester fights passionately for the right to raise her daughter. Hersters crime of adultry motivates her to keep Pearl on a righteous path and therefore she should be considered a more devoted mother because of her knowledge of sin. Overall Hester is clearly prepared for the demanding and respectable role of motherhood.
"'God gave her into my keeping,' repeated Hester Prynne, raising her voice to almost a shriek. "I will not give her up!' . . . 'Thou knowest - for thou hast sympathies which these men lack - thou knowest what is in my heart, and what are a mother's rights, and how much stronger they are when that mother has but her child and the scarlet letter!'" (Hawthorne 64)


Chapter 9-10


**Click Here For "Brothers" Movie Trailer**


Hester is portrayed as the character Grace in this film. She believes her husband to be dead and moves on to another lover just as Hester falls in love with Dimmesdale in the absence of her own husband. Dimmesdale is represented by Uncle Tommy who becomes Graces new lover. Chillingworth is similar to Captian Sam Cahill who is Grace's M.I.A. husband. When Chillingworth and Dimmesdale meet there is obvious tension as with the relationship between Uncle Tommy and Captian Sam Cahill. As Sam discovers the truth in his brother, Chillingworth dives into Dimesdale's secrets as well and works to bury him in guilt.

"To sum up the matter, it grew to be a widely diffused opinion that the Reverand Arthur Dimmesdale, like many other personages of especial sanctity, in all ages of the Christian world, was haunted either by Satan himself, or Satan's emissary, in the guise of old Roger Chillingworth. This diabolical agent had the Divine permission, for a season, to burrow into the clergyman's intimacy and plot against his soul" (Hawthorne 79).


Chapter 11


Click Here for Article on the John Edwards Scandal

This current event connects to the Scarlet Letter John Edwards fathered an illegitimate child while Hester acts similarly by giving birth to Pearl, also an illegitimate child.




Chapter 13



Chapter 18


The minister at this point in the novel is not plagued individually by his sin he now is able to share it with Hester. They have made a plan to escape with each other and that brings a lightness to his sin; the burden is not as heavy. The minister in a way is becoming more human and less official and holy. In order to show this change Hawthorne begins to refer to him as Arthur Dimmesdale to give him a more commen referance instead of the respectable and official title of Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale. Adding in his first name instead of just calling him Dimmesdale gives him more body as a character as well making him another stumbling, imperfect human which the reader can better relate to.
"'Do I feel joy again?' cried he, wondering at himself. 'Methought the germ of it was dead in me! O Hester, thou art my better angel! I seem to have flung myself - sick, sinstained, and sorrow-blackened - down upon these forest leaves, and to have risen up all made anew, and with new powers to glorify Him that hath been merciful! This is already a better life!'" (Hawthorne 157).


Final Assignments:


  • Hawthorne has chosen for Hester to have a daughter and not a son so that she can reflect her lessons to her daughter, Pearl. She must face the possiblity of Pearl meeting her same fate and teach Pearl to choose the path that she herself was unable to take. From our mistakes we learn to be stronger and better individuals, and to teach others what we have learned; therefore in a way teaching Pearl the path of light could serve as another form of penitence for Hester.
  • The character who committed the greatest sin in the novel was Hester's husband, Chillingworth. Although Hester and Dimmesdale engaged in adultery, which in the Puritan times was the most disgusting of sins, Chillingworth kept revenge in his heart. Chillingworth uses his lust for vengeance against Hester's lover as an excuse to keep his true identity from being revealed to the people in Boston. His is the greatest sin for not only lying to everyone but tormenting Dimmesdale without any reason or proof.
"We are not, Hester, the worst sinners in the world. There is one worse than even the polluted priest! That old man's revenge has been blacker than my sin. He has violated, in cold blood, the sanctity of a human heart. Thou and I, Hester, never did so!" (Hawthorne 150).