American Romanticism (1820-1865)Early romanticismNew England transcendentalismHigh romanticism
RomanticismValues - passion, emotion, natural beauty - imagination, mysticism, liberalism (freedom to express personal feelings)Describes - personal human experiences - often social nonconformists or outcasts
The Scarlet Letter (1850)
Time and Place of the StoryBoston1642-1649 Chapters 1-3 Market-Place. A June morning, 1642. Chapter 4 Prison. Afternoon of the same day. Chapters 7-8 Home of Governor Bellingham. Late summer, 1645. Chapter 12 Market-Place. Saturday night, early May, 1649 (Governor Winthrops death). Chapters 14-15 Sea coast. Several days later. Chapters 16-19 Forest. Several days later. Chapters 21-23 Market-Place. Three days later.
New England Puritans intoleranceHostile to witchcraft - Ann Hibbins hanged as a witch in 1656. - witchcraft trial in Salem in 1692Hostile to other Protestant sectarians like Antinomians and Quakers - Ann Hutchinson (1591-1643) was banished from Massachusetts in 1638 for unlawful preaching. - counter force: religious freedom in Rhode Island
Antinomians / Quakers vs. PuritansAntinomians / Quakers - the individuals inner light.Puritans - no individual could hear the voice of God speaking directly to their soul.
Settlement at BostonEstablished in 1630Main colony of MassachusettsEarly center of American PuritanismTheocratic-minded statesmen and ministersThe Newsletter (1704) - the 1st newspaperHarvard University founded at nearby Cambridge in 1636Commercial center
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)s family Salem, Massachusettes New England Puritans Hathornes - William: prosecutor of Quakers - John (Williams son): prosecutor of witches - grandfather: revolutionary war hero - father: sea captain Mother - Elizabeth Manning Hathorne
Hawthornes enemiesIntoleranceHypocrisy that hides the common sinGreed that refuses to share joyIncapacity for human sympathy
The Unpardonable SinThe Unpardonable Sin might consist in a want of love and reverence for the Human Soul; in consequence of which, the investigator pried into its dark depths, not with a hope or purpose of making it better, but from a cold philosophical curiosity, - content that it should be wicked in whatever kind or degree, and only desiring to study it out. Would not this, in other words, be the separation of the intellect from the heart? (Hawthorne, The American Notebooks, 1844)
Discussion Topics for Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Discussion questions1. The function of The Custom-House: Introductory to The Scarlet Letter and the first three chapters in the structure of the whole novel?2. What crime/sin was Hester Prynne found committing? Who are involved in this crime/sin? How do people in the novel react to the crime /sin?3. Describe the traits of early Puritans as is revealed in The Scarlet Letter? Which do you think desirable and which not?
Discussion Questions4. How do Hester, Chillingworth and Dimmesdale each react to the crime / sin? What are the consequences of their reactions? Find the things and people associated with each of these characters and their indications about these characters.5. Tell the story of the witch in the novel. Look for evidence revealing the townspeoples concept of witch and witchcraft. Give a comment on what a witch is.
Discussion Questions6. Ambiguity and ambivalence in the narrative voice7. Describe the changes in the appearances of the priest Dimmesdale and Hester's husband Chillingworth during the process of their several encounters and analyze what these changes indicate and symbolize.
Structural significance of The Custom-House: integral to the novel? links source of the story; reason for Hawthornes interest in the Puritan period; some aspects of the narrators character, his emotional responses to people and his situationChapter 1: sets the mood for the taleChapter 2 & 3: introduce major characters, settings, the event that will push the plot onward.
Hester Prynnes crime / sinAdulteryPeople involved: Prynne, Dimmesdale, Chillingworth, Pearl, and townspeopleReactions
Hester Prynnes ReactionOpenly acknowledges her sinPublicly accepts her punishment - wearing the scarlet letter A which is elaborately embroidered by herself - humbly accepting all peoples derision and belittlement without feeling wronged; instead, keeping helping the poor and the diseased
Effect of Hester Prynnes ReactionWins respect from the community and changing the meaning of the letter A on her bosomBe at peace with herself and with other peopleGrows stronger in mindSees more clearly and thinks more critically about the people about her and the sins hidden in these people
Things and people associated with Hester PrynneA blossoming wild rose-bush (p. 48); the sainted Ann Hutchinson (p. 48, 165)/ Prophetess (p.165)The scarlet letter A elaborately embroidered on the bosom of her gown Black hair and eyesA spell taking her out of ordinary human beings and inclosing her in a sphere by herself (p. 54)The image of Divine Maternity (Virgin Mary) (p. 56): perfect elegance, natural dignity of the feminine gentility (p. 53), serene beauty (p.55)Needle / embroidery / art
Arthur Dimmesdales Reaction & Its EffectsReaction: Hiding his sinEffects: - suffers from increasing torment of conscience (his own hypocrisy) - grows weaker both physically and psychologically - dies from the mental torture
Things and people associated with Arthur DimmesdaleEloquence & fervor / speech of an angelNervous sensibility: tremulous mouth, melancholy brown eyes, apprehensive, startled and half-frightened look, emaciated form, gloom and terror, painWhite: white brow, pale cheekShadowy by-path the meteoric sign of the letter AHand over his heart
Chillingworths Reaction and Its EffectsReaction: - Revengeful - Hideously torments a human heartEffects: - changes into a cold-hearted devillike man - loses humanity and motive to live after the object of his revenge dies.
Things and people associated with Roger ChillingworthDim eyes (p.58)Deformity: Misshapen shoulders (p.58)Snake / horror / terror (p.61, 76)Blackness / darkness / duskSombre, lonely, chill (p.74)Glare of red light / fire / flameherbDevil (p.170) / Black Man in the forest (p.77)
Ambiguity & ambivalenceAmbiguity - Scarlet letter A - Pearl - ForestNarrators ambivalent attitude towards: - Is adultery wrong or pardonable? - Is Hester being praised or condemned?
Theme of the Novel1. New England Puritan moral life2. a love story3. necessity of being true / criticism of hypocrisy4. a critique of New England Puritans intolerance5. effect of sin on people6. conflict between society and individual
Conflict between society and individualsThe novel represents the conflict between individuals and society by the example of the minister Dimmesdale (pp. 132-33; p. 259). - Society needs a pious minister. - The minister is eager to be true.
Narrative methodTelling vs. showingNarrative mode: omniscient narration with frequent author intrusionsOptional readings The scarlet letter in the sky? A scarlet letter on Dimmesdales bosom?
Assignments for Huck Finn1. Is the book a production of racism or against racism? Comment on the character of Jim and Mark Twains portrayal of niggers.2. Comment on the images of women in the novel. 3. Is Huck and Jims images in the ending (about the last 11 chapters, from chapt 33 on) consistent with those in the previous chapters? Is the ending a success, failure or disappointment?
Assignments for Huck Finn4. What are the major symbols in the novel? 5. Use examples to illustrate the effect of using vernacular language to describe characters. 6. Whats the effect of using Huck as the 1st-person narrator?Gerald Graff & James Phelan, eds, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. A case study in critical controversy (Boston: Bedford / St. Martins, 1995).