Directions: As you read each night, pay special attention to these questions/ comments. Be prepared to discuss these issues during class. You should keep notes to aid you in your reading and understanding of the novel. Focus on reading the chapters closely and using the following items to illuminate events that may be difficult to understand at first. I recognize that this is higher level reading, but I urge you to do as much as you can with the novel independently – push yourself. The reading becomes easier as you adapt to Hawthorne’s language and style.
1.Hawthorne establishes a contrast between the darkness of the Puritans and the beauty of the rose. Examine the descriptions of the Puritans, the prison, and the prison door. What does Hawthorne imply about the nature of human beings by his emphasis on the early establishment of a prison and a cemetery in this new American colony? What does the ancient wood door (in this colony only twenty years old) symbolize?
a.Sad-colored garments, grey steeple-crowned hate. Wooden door with spike
b.Death and Sin. This is not the garden of Eden. Prison signifies the law and order of civilization, Rose bush natural order vs. human order, nature can still overcome thrive despite man’s order. Evil and death are unavoidable.
c.The door symbolizes the effect of sin, the fate of those locked away.
2.What is signified by the description of the weeds? The rose? Ann Hutchinson was a Quaker who maintained her right to her own conscience. What is Hawthorne’s attitude toward her? How does he connect her to Hester?
a.The weeds might represent the condescending and choking attitude of the community members. The rose may symbolize Hester’s true beauty or the prisoners’ last glimpse of hope. The rose can represent moral blossoming. The ability for the natural world to thrive next to the civilized world.