Scarlet Letter - Reading Log

Topics: The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne, Nathaniel Hawthorne Pages: 13 (5246 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Aug. 25 2001 Chapter 1 Pages 49-50
1. Chapter one thoroughly describes the Jailhouse and the surrounding landscape. Tells of the huge wooden edifices whose threshold is timbered and iron barred. Gives the description of the peoples clothing who were congregating outside of the prison. It also describes the necessity of a new colony first building a prison and graveyard. In the last paragraph it tells of a rose bush outside of the oaken doors. The author describes the awkwardness of having such a beautiful plant surrounded by weeds and shrubs.

2. (Page 50) The rose-bush, by a strange chance, has been kept alive in history; but whether it had merely survived out of the stern old wilderness, so long after the fall of the gigantic pines and oaks that originally overshadowed it, --or whether, as there is fair authority for believing, it had sprung up under the footsteps of the sainted Anne Hutchinson, --we shall not take upon us to determine. I believe these lines are important because they illustrate some of the mythology of the times in which this book was set. The author also goes on to describe how this rose bush could symbolize two different things depending on the readers perspective; A tale of morals blossoming; or a tale of human frailty and sorrow.

3. I think chapter one should have been more obvious to the setting and time frame in which the story takes place. By text one assumes it is set in a new colony in early American history, however it should give a precise time in my opinion. Hawthorne does an excellent job of helping the reader visualize the story and is able to present a question of opinion in the first chapter, which shows great writing skills.

4. The first chapter reminds me of Where The Red Fern Grows. The rose bush that is mentioned briefly has much to do with the story even though there is little reference to it. In WTRFG the fern is actually not so much part of the story as an idea represented through a physical inanimate object, as I believe the rose bush to be. Later in the novel Pearl says she came from the rose bush by the prison door, that shows her beauty and resilience as a comparison to an object unable to show emotion.

Aug. 25, 2001 Chapter 2 Pages 51 to 61
1. This chapter gives a little more setting of the town describing the short journey from the jail to the scaffold and town center. This is also where Hester's crime is commented on by the town's people whom think that her punishment is too lenient for her crime. Hester is led to the scaffold by the town beadle and placed upon it with her crying infant and elegant gown embroidered in the bosom with a scarlet letter "A".

2. (Page 59) The witnesses of Hester Prynne's disgrace had not yet passed beyond their simplicity. They were stern enough to look upon her death, had that been the sentence, without a murmur at it s severity, but had none of the heartlessness of another social state, which would find only a theme for jest in an exhibition like the present. I find these lines to be of great importance because it illustrates the towns seriousness on the issue of moral, religion, and law. They would look at her being hanged had that been the sentence but noon were heartless enough to ridicule her as she stood upon the scaffold with her infant, the shame of her crime, in her arms. That shows that the townspeople do care and have the morals not to insult a person that is already marked for life with shame in the form of an "A".

3. It would be interesting to witness one of these town humiliations or any other town punishments, as now it is not customary for a person's crimes to be announced to the public unless he or she has the misfortune of being famous. It makes me wonder why we ever strayed from that form of law. People would not so quickly commit crimes especially juveniles if they were to be marked for life and publicly humiliated for it.

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