Chapters 5-10 - Wayzata Public Schools

Report
THE SCARLET LETTER
CHAPTER NOTES 5-10
ADAPTED FROM:
Guelcher, William: THE SCARLET LETTER: STRATEGIES IN TEACHING: Idea Works Inc., Eagan
Minnesota, 1989.
Van Kirk, Susan: HAWTHORNE’S THE SCARLET LETTER: CliffsNotes. IDG Books Worldwide Inc.,
Forest City, California., 2000.
BEFORE WE START…A LIGHTER
NOTE
•
What’s in a name?
• Roger Chillingsworth
• Roger Cottingworth
• Roger Billiger
• Roger Chillingout
• Richard Cillingworth
• Richard Chilling
• Richard Ellington
• Randy Chillingworth
• Oliver Bellingsworth
• Chillingham
• Thomas
CHAPTERS 5-10
• Hester begins her life as an
outcast in a cottage that separates
the town from the wilderness
• She is completely isolated – just
as she was on the scaffold in the
first chapter – as “the figure, the
body, the reality of sin.”
• Hester could flee from her letter;
she does not.
• Along with the rest of her life,
“…her sin, her ignominy, were
the roots which she had struck in
the soil.”
CHAPTERS 5-10
• The big question: Should this
place be the scene of her earthly
punishment as a decree from
God?
• Or should this be the place where
she would work out the new
purity which was more “saint-like,
because of the result of
martyrdom?”
• As a result of her sin, does
Hester Prynne actually become a
person morally superior to the
person she was before?
CHAPTERS 5-10
She carves out an existence for her
and Pearl through her needlework,
which is in great demand (except for
wedding garb).
Irony: The town condemns Hester
while seeking the garments she
makes: For her part, Hester is not
overly proud of her handiwork. She
sees the ornamentation as sin.
Remember how ornate her own
scarlet letter is.
She also donates much or her
earnings to charity.
CHAPTERS 5-10
•
Key theme: the scarlet letter – what
it represents – separates Hester
from society, but it allows her to
recognize sin in the very same
society that banishes her.
• This represents the hypocrisy of
Puritanism
• Whenever Hester is in the presence
of a person masking a sin, “the red
infamy upon her breast would give
a sympathetic throb.”
• This concerns her: Focusing on the
sins of others may tempt her to
“devalue” her own.
CHAPTERS 5-10
• Pearl
• So named because she came of a
“great price”
• A character and a symbol
• Complex: an almost unworldly,
beautiful, radiant child whose
uncontrollable nature reflects the
sinful passion that led to her birth.
• “She is the product and symbol of
an act of adultery, an act of love,
an act of passion, a sin, and a
crime.”
• She is the devil’s child and God’s
child.
CHAPTERS 5-10
• The Puritans saw
extramarital sex as
something inherently
evil.
• So Hawthorne raises the
question: Can
something good come
from something evil?
CHAPTERS 5-10
•
Consider Hawthorne’s take on the
treatment of Hester by the town
compared to her treatment by God.
• “Man had marked this woman’s sin
by a scarlet letter, which had so
potent and disastrous efficacy that
no human sympathy could reach
her, save it were sinful like herself.”
• Yet, “God, [who] as a direct
consequence of the sin which man
thus punished, had given her a
lovely child…o be finally a blessed
soul in heaven!”
CHAPTERS 5-10
• Pay attention to the scarlet
references and connection to
Pearl in chapter 7
• Pearl’s dress is scarlet, which
seems to intensify her “fire
and passion.”
• Pearl’s scarlet appearance is
closely associated with the
scarlet letter on Hester’s dress,
with which Pearl is fascinated.
• The town perceives Pearl as
“the scarlet letter in another
form.”
CHAPTERS 5-10
• Chapter 8 reunites the four major
characters for the first time since
the first scaffold scene.
• What are the solid hints here that
reveal Pearl’s father?
• Hester’s appeal to him for help;
Pearl’s solemn caress of his hand;
his answering kiss.
• Hester insists Pearl would be
better served if Hester is able to
teach her wisdom and help Pearl
learn from Hester’s sin.
CHAPTERS 5-10
•
What does Pearl answer when Mr.
Wilson asks, “Canst thou tell me, child,
who made thee?”
• Pearl’s refusal to correctly answer the
catechism question: reminiscent of
Hester’s defiance on the scaffold when
she refused to name the father of her
child.
• Pearl’s existence has a dual nature:
happiness and torture for Hester.
• Matthew 13:45-46: The story of a
merchant who sold all his goods for
one pearl of great worth, which
represents the kingdom of heaven.
• Pearl may find salvation, according to
Dimmesdale. Is he prophesying about
his own need?
CHAPTERS 5-10
• Two sources of evil appear:
Mistress Hibbins and
Chillingworth.
• Hester notes Chillingworth’s
changed physical appearance: now
more ugly and dark.
• Chillingworth hints that he may
already have decided on
Dimmesdale’s guilt.
• In the end, the forces of light and
darkness are vying for human
souls.
CHAPTERS 5-10
This is an important juncture: Hester
and Dimmesdale stand as contrasting
characters.
She publicly acknowledges her sin
and accepts the painful
consequences: She chooses to keep
open the channel of God’s
redemption.
Dimmesdale, by keeping his sin
private, chooses to alienate himself
from God. He is deteriorating
because of this decision.
CHAPTERS 5-10
• This battle of good versus evil
carries through Chapter 9.
• The town is split on
Chillingworth: Some people
initially see him as a “brilliant
acquisition” for the ailing
Dimmesdale. But some also
suspect Chillingworth is leading
to Dimmesdale’s deterioration.
• The “leech” seems to be sucking
the life out of the minister.
• By doing so, he strikes up a
relationship with evil.
CHAPTERS 5-10
• By Chapter 10, Chillingworth’s
evil determination is in full
bloom.
• Dimmesdale’s struggle within
himself is destroying him,
physically and emotionally.
• Chillingworth – once a “pure and
upright man” – is now doing the
work of the devil through his
psychological torture of
Dimmesdale: The minister cannot
serve his fellow man with dark
secrets in his soul.
CHAPTERS 5-10
• The mysterious reference to
Dimmesdale’s chest at the end of
the chapter: an important “clue”
and confirmation that
Chillingworth has found the man
he has been looking for.
• Note Hawthorne’s take on the
“strange sympathy betwixt the
soul and body” – the external
representation of the inner
character.
• The major characters are symbols,
as well as people.

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