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THE SCARLET LETTER (1850) Nathaniel Hawthorne. The novel opens with Western being led to the scaffold where she is to be publicly ashamed for having committed adultery. Forced to wear letter ‘A’ on her chest all the time. She has stitched the letter onto her dress with gold thread, giving the letter an air of elegance. She carries Pearl her daughter. In the crowd he recognizes her husband from Amsterdam, Roger Chillingworth. He forces her never to reveal his identity. Good reputation. He uses his reputation to get transferred into the same home as Arthur Dimmesdale, the true father of Pearl. Pearl doesn’t recognise her mother without the letter. He tries to torment the minister. One night Dimmesdale walks to the scaffold. He stands there and imagines the whole ‘tocon’ watching him with a letter in his chest. Arthur tells Hestern he is terrified of Roger. She tells Roger she’s going to reveal Arthur the truth. In the woods, she confesses Roger’s true identity. He is furious but he thinks that they should run together. Western sends a ship which will carry all three of them. Roger gets the ship’s captain to agree to take him on board as well. Arthur gives his election sermon and Hester and Pearl join him on the scaffold after the speech. He tells that he is a sinner like Hester. He then rips open his shirt to reveal a scarlet letter on his ‘chest’. Arthur falls to his knees and dies while on the scaffold. Western and Pearl leave the town and several years later Hestern returns. She never removes her scarlet letter.

1st Introduction of the custom house. 2nd the story. A romance, not a realistic  or historical novel. Everything symbolical. The narrator says that he didn’t invent the story of the scarlet letter. Interested in what happens inside the characters. Psichological wilderness. 1642-1649. 

There was an interralated relation between individual and society. A punishment is needed. The punishment is public (in the scaffold). Adulterers were condmened with letter A. The meaning of these symbols is not fix: for ex. The letter A here means adulterer, but Hestern transforms this into elegance, bravery, courage…the scaffold is a symbol of punishment.

In EEUU it is necessary to apologize when people commit a sin or break the law. In EEUU public and private are one, they are ‘community’ they have public confession. In the novel she was adulterer but she doesn’t confess. She is condemned because anybody knew who is the father of her daughter. She fights against the nation. Men and women go against her. Related with -‘Declaration of sentiments & abolitionism women about the liberation of women (written following the Declaration of Independence). The novel is centered in the consequences of sin. Puritans defines what sin is. Sin and evil important. Red color means sin, passion, lust.  American Romanticism: -Valued feelings and institution over reason. Power of imagination. Valued individual freedom and worth of individual. Scape to nature to gain moral and spiritual development. Explore subconscious. 

Gothic elements: darkness, considered conflicts between good and evil, sin. Feature of Nathaniel works: Sense of sin and evil. Tension between head and heart. Hawthorne has negative attitude toward science. Mostly, his intellectual characters are villains. Ambiguity. Symbolism (Puritan society, try to understand the invisible through the visible). Supernatural elements. Excellent craftsmanship.  Chapter 24: conclusion, many possibilities, many interpretations. Read between lines. The author is concerned about the consequences. Has sin universal definition? Who says what sin is? What does this book tell us, in the 21th century?

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