Summary and Analysis of introduction to the Scarle Essay

This essay has a total of 489 words and 3 pages.

Summary and Analysis of introduction to the Scarlet letter



Semi-fictional, this chapter explains how the romance of The Scarlet Letter came to
presented as a story to the audience. Having always wanted to be a "literary man," the
writer talks about his three-year stint as a Surveyor in the Salem Custom House. Mostly
filled with older gentlemen, the workplace was a very political (Whig) environment and
charged with Puritan history. After brief character sketches of the personalities in the
Custom House, the writer then explains how he came upon a special package among the piles
of papers. It contained a red cloth with "A" embroidered in gold thread and a manuscript
by Jonathan Pue (the man who once held the writer's job). Finding the story extremely
interesting, the author thus retells the story of Hester Prynne from Massachusetts'
Puritan history.

This section helps to position the voice of the narrator since we are going to hear
comments throughout the rest of the novel. It reveals insecurities that the narrator has
in pursuing a writing career. When he imagines that his "great-grandsire" Puritan
ancestors are looking down on him, saying, "A writer of storybooks! What kind of business
in life - what mode of glorifying God, or being serviceable to mankind in his day and
generation - may that be? Why the degenerate fellow might as well have been a fiddler!" he
dramatizes the anxiety he feels about writing for a living. His religious forebears think
that it is a ridiculous profession, not at all useful to elevating God or anything else.
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