The Scarlet Letter5



THE SCARLET LETTER

The Custom House:
Hawthorne says that he writes to the whole world hoping that someone will
understand what he is talking about.

He goes on to speak about Salem, where his relatives have lived and died since its
existence. Over time Salem has become more of an instinct to his family, and has tried to escape, but always come back. His children were not born in Salem because he wanted to break free of the tradition. He compares people to plants in that if you do not transplant, future crops will be ruined.

He descries his forefathers as Puritans. They would not approve of his lifestyle as a
writer because it is to unproductive.

He then describes his return to Salem and his new job at the Custom House. His
employees are elderly veterans that both amused and pained the author. After the men found out he meant no harm they relax and spend their time telling stories.

Custom House Inspector- head leader of all custom houses, great physical condition
despite of old age, but had no brains. His father put him into his position. He has no memories of experiences, only food.

Collector- very old, strong spirit, his age has physically affected him, in war he was
brutal, but now he wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Surveyor- more in contact with his thoughts than with the real world, motto: “I’ll try,
sir!”, described as a rusty sword

Author’s title: Surveyor of Revenue

One rainy day he looks through old barrels of articles and finds a scarlet letter “A” and
a document describing the life of Hester Prynne. He claims that these serve as documents of proof for his novel. (These were never found and were probably made up to give the novel a historical sense.) He decides to write a book based on this. He does his writing under moonlight or firelight.

As he writes he realizes he must leave the Custom House. It’s way of producing a stable
life is addicting. It doesn’t allow you to “support yourself.” But then he is promoted to “P.P.” and decides to stay. Just as he begins to feel comfortable he was fired. Because of this he returned to writing. (Metaphor used: political guillotine.) He claims that although the story is somber, his mind-frame while writing remained cheerful.

He says he holds no grudges and that the Custom House people do not interest and
upset him anymore. He thinks that he will die and soon be forgotten in Salem. He also doesn’t think that future generations will find much of an interest in Salem, beyond the town’s water pump.


Chapter 1: The Prison Door
A crowd of men and women is gathered outside of Boston’s prison door. Although
Boston was originally designed as a Utopia, but the first few things to be built were the prison and the cemetery. He also says that the prison has been aged quickly.

Outside of the prison is a small lot with wild plants growing in it. The most important is
the rose bush. It offers comfort to prisoners being brought into jail and to people about to be executed. This rosebush has been kept alive in history and outlived the gigantic pines and oaks around it.

Chapter 2: The Market Place
The author starts the chapter with a crowd outside the prison gate. He explains that in
this time even minor violations and punishments were treated exactly the same as executions. Women of this time were not only larger physically, but were more forceful verbally as well. This is the main reason they dislike Hester, who is better looking than they are. They feel that her punishment should be severe, from a branding on her forehead to death.

Hester comes out of the prison and allows her three-month-old child to see natural light
for the first time. She then shifts her baby to her other arm to reveal a scarlet “A” on her. It is described as “artistically done,” “gorgeous,” and “elaborate.”

Hester Prynne- young, tall, with a figure of perfect elegance on a large scale, dark hair
that was “so glossy that it threw off the sunshine with a gleam,” deep black eyes, beautiful face, ladylike

Hester surprises the crowd by coming out with dignity and beauty instead of being
obscured. The crowd was also upset that her scarlet