Scarlet Letter Notes

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Question 1: A Prison and a cemetery are the first things needed. It shows how strict the laws there were. Additional was the fact that for a punishment, for whatever sin, you either went to prison or were killed some way and buried in the cemetery. It sets the precedent of strict rules through the church. The Puritans ruled everything in their entirety through the church. They constantly went through the bible picking out different verses “deciphering” their meaning and utilizing these as evidence in the persecution of suspects. These translated laws were sometimes skewed and meant only to fit the purpose of the magistrates, the Salem witch trials being a prominent example of this.

Question 2: The “gossips” think that the magistrates were much too lenient. They think that she should be put to death. Many of them were making harsh comments who even the guys refrained from. This is especially ironic because many of them probably had committed adultery as well, they just weren’t caught. Society shrugs it off as the couple’s problem. We do this to avoid getting involved in other people’s business. We also are much less neighborly now and have no idea things like this are happening.

Question 3: She was to be put in prison for an unknown time. She must wear an “A” upon her bosom for the remainder of her life. Additionally she must spend 3 hours on the stage in the middle of the colony. They hope to utilize her as an example that will be reminded to all for her entire life. They believe she should be put to death instead like the law originally provides action for. It is something that we actually do in our society, just much more subtly and for other causes. One being labeled a sex offender is very much the same type of thing although not quite in your face as much.

Question 4: He is quite young. He has brown melancholy eyes to fit a soft appearance. His face is only discernible as a look of seclusion and apprehensiveness. The other clergymen were pressuring him. Hester is under his church and because of that it is his job to make her speak the words of repentance. It is also almost believed to be partly his fault that she has strayed in the path of god. It could almost be considered a peer pressuring circle made up of Clergymen about who is the best.

Question 5: The two heaviest secrets were; the secret of whom she had lain with to procreate the baby, and the secret of Roger Chillingsworth’s true identity. I believe that the second one is much harder for her. The fact that she could warn the person, of which she quite possibly might love, of the imminent danger Roger could bring to him, but is now not allowed to. This secret would be much harder to keep than a secret that by saying quite only helps the person she “loves” or is trying to protect. It is a merciless situation which could twist one’s mind. Hester is already showing signs of insanity before Roger came. It must become much worse afterward.

Question 6: It could be a combination of reasons. It could be the guilt, to take the punishment that is making her want to deal with her own sin. She could feel like she deserves this life that has been cast upon her. It also could be because she loves the father of her baby, and feels it would be wrong to take the baby from him. I believe she feels as though she has made her bed and now must lie in it. I also believe she may possibly be in love with this other man, but it is an arbitrary love that she can never express.

Literary skills
“Next rose before her, in memory’s picture gallery ... still in connection with the misshapen scholar; a new life, but feeding itself on time-worn materials, like a tuft of green moss on a crumbling wall.” (Scarlet Letter pg. 52) This sentence shows both personification and symbolism. Personification in the fact that it says life itself can feed off of time-worn materials, symbolizing Roger chillingsworth in his old demeanor. Symbolism is also used when Hawthorne compares Roger to...
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