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Hawthorne & The Scarlet Letter 简介

1. Introduction to Nathaniel Hawthorne(1804-1864) 纳撒尼尔· 霍桑 "America is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women, and I should have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash--and should be ashamed of myself if I did succeed. What is the mystery of these innumerable editions of The Lamplighter (by Maria Susanna Cummins), and other books neither better nor worse? Worse they could not be, and better they need not be, when they sell by the hundred thousand." Hawthorne's 1855 letter to his publisher William D. Ticknor, quoted in Pattee, Fred L. The Feminine Fifties. NY: Appleton-Century Co., 1940. p. 110. 1) Life and pictures July 4, 1804 Born Salem, Massachusetts, United States May 19, 1864 (aged 59) Died Plymouth, New Hampshire, United States

2) Works: Major Works: The handiest collection of Hawthorne's fiction is to be found in the two Hawthorne volumes of the Library of America, Novels and Tales and Sketches, selected and annotated by Millicent Bell and Roy Harvey Pearce, respectively. Nathaniel Hawthorne's Tales, edited by James McIntosh, is a Norton Critical Edition. Fanshawe ( 1828 ). 《范肖》 Twice-Told Tales ( 1837 ) 《重述的故事》This volume, and the one following, contain short stories. Mosses from an Old Manse (1846 ). The Scarlet Letter ( 1850 ). 《红字》The Norton Critical Edition is edited by Seymour Gross, Scully Bradley, Richmond Croom Bestty, and E. Hudson Long.

The House of the Seven Gables ( 1851 ). The Norton Critical Edition is edited by Seymour Gross. A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys ( 1852 ). This volume, and the one following, contain retellings of Classical myths. Tanglewood Tales ( 1853 ). The Snow-Image and Other Twice-Told Tales ( 1852 ). The Blithedale Romance ( 1852 ). 《福谷传奇》The Norton Critical Edition is edited by Seymour Gross and Rosalie Murphy. The Marble Faun ( 1860 ). 《玉石雕像》 Other Works: Grandfather's Chair ( 1841 ). A child's history of New England of which Hawthorne was a deep student. Life of Franklin Pierce ( 1852 ). Hawthorne had been a classmate at Bowdoin. 3) Reasons for Hawthorne's Current Popularity (1) One of the most modern of writers, Hawthorne is relevant in theme and attitude. According to H. H. Waggoner, Hawthorne's attitudes use irony, ambiguity, and paradox. (2) Hawthorne rounds off (完成,圆满结束) the puritan cycle in American writing - belief in the existence of an active evil (the devil) and in a sense of determinism (the concept of predestination). (3) Hawthorne's use of psychological analysis (pre-Freudian) is of interest today. (4) In themes and style, Hawthorne's writings look ahead to Henry James, William Faulkner, and Robert Penn Warren. 4)Major Themes in Hawthorne's Fiction (1) Alienation - a character is in a state of isolation because of self-cause, or societal cause, or a combination of both. (2) Initiation (启蒙) - involves the attempts of an alienated character to get rid of his isolated condition.

(3) Problem of Guilt -a character's sense of guilt forced by the puritanical heritage or by society; also guilt vs. innocence. (4) Pride - Hawthorne treats pride as evil. He illustrates the following aspects of pride in various characters: physical pride (Robin), spiritual pride (Goodman Brown, Ethan Brand), and intellectual pride (Rappaccini). (5) Puritan New England - used as a background and setting in many tales. (6) Italian background - especially in The Marble Faun. (7) Allegory - Hawthorne's writing is allegorical, didactic and moralistic. ( 8 ) Other themes include individual vs. society, self-fulfillment vs. accommodation or frustration, hypocrisy vs. integrity, love vs. hate, exploitation vs. hurting, and fate vs. free will. 5)Influences on Hawthorne (1) Salem - early childhood, later work at the Custom House. (2) Puritan family background - one of his forefathers was Judge Hathorne, who presided over the Salem witchcraft trials, 1692. (3) Belief in the existence of the devil. (4) Belief in determinism. 6)Hawthorne as a Literary Artist (1) First professional writer - college educated, familiar with the great European writers, and influenced by puritan writers like Cotton Mather. (2) Hawthorne displayed a love for allegory and symbol. He dealt with tensions involving: light versus dark; warmth versus cold; faith versus doubt; heart versus mind; internal versus external worlds. (3) His writing is representative of 19th century, and, thus, in the mainstream due to his use of nature, its primitiveness, and as a source of inspiration; also in his use of the exotic, the gothic, and the antiquarian (古文物 的).

6) About Hawthorne: Edwin Haviland Miller, Salem is My Dwelling Place: A Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Iowa, 1991. Randall Stewart, Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Biography. Reprinted Archon, 1970. Arlin Turner, Nathaniel Hawthorne. Oxford, 1980 Nathaniel Hawthorne. A comprehensive Hawthorne page from Eric Eldred. Nathaniel Hawthorne Page from D. Campbell at Gonzaga University Hawthorne Criticism from Internet Public Library. Hawthorne in Salem from North Shore Community College. A "Young Goodman Brown" Page from Florida Gulf Coast U.

2、Key Facts on The Scarlet Letter

· The Scarlet Letter

· Nathaniel Hawthorne · Novel


· Symbolic; semi-allegorical; historical fiction; romance (in the sense

that it rejects realism in favor of symbols and ideas)

· English · Salem and Concord, Massachusetts; late 1840s · 1850



· Ticknor, Reed, and Fields · The narrator is an unnamed customhouse surveyor who writes

some two hundred years after the events he describes took place. He has much in common with Hawthorne but should not be taken as a direct mouthpiece (代言 人) for the author’s opinions.

· The narrator is omniscient, because he analyzes the

characters and tells the story in a way that shows that he knows more about the characters than they know about themselves. Yet, he is also a subjective narrator,

because he voices his own interpretations and opinions of things. He is clearly sympathetic to Hester and Dimmesdale.

· Varies—contemplative and somewhat bitter in the introduction;

thoughtful, fairly straightforward, yet occasionally tinged with irony in the body of the narrative

· The narrator employs the past tense to recount events that

happened some two hundred years before his time, but he occasionally uses the present tense when he addresses his audience.

· Middle of the seventeenth century · Boston, Massachusetts

· Hester Prynne · Her husband having inexplicably failed to join her in


Boston following their emigration from Europe, Hester Prynne engages in an extramarital affair with Arthur Dimmesdale. When she gives birth to a child, Hester invokes the condemnation of her community—a condemnation they manifest by forcing her to wear a letter “A” for “adulteress”—as well as the vengeful wrath of her husband, who has appeared just in time to witness her public shaming.

· Dimmesdale stands by in silence as Hester suffers for the

“sin” he helped to commit, though his conscience plagues him and affects his health. Hester’s husband, Chillingworth, hides his true identity and, posing as a doctor to the ailing minister, tests his suspicions that Dimmesdale is the father of his wife’s child, effectively exacerbating (加剧,恶化) Dimmesdale’s feelings of shame and thus reaping revenge.

· There are at least two points in The Scarlet Letter that could be

identified as the book’s “climax.” The first is in Chapter XII, at the exact center of the book. As Dimmesdale watches a meteor (流星) trace a letter “A” in the sky, he confronts his role in Hester’s sin and realizes that he can no longer deny his deed and its consequences. The key characters confront one another when

Hester and Pearl join Dimmesdale in an “electric chain” as he holds his vigil (守 夜)on the marketplace scaffold, the location of Hester’s original public shaming. Chillingworth appears in this scene as well. The other climactic scene occurs in Chapter XXIII, at the end of the book. Here, the characters’ secrets are publicly exposed and their fates sealed. Dimmesdale, Hester, and Chillingworth not only acknowledge their secrets to themselves and to each other; they push these revelations to such extremes that they all must leave the community in one way or another.

· Depending on one’s interpretation of which scene

constitutes the book’s “climax,” the falling action is either the course of events that follow Chapter XII or the final reports on Hester’s and Pearl’s lives after the deaths of Dimmesdale and Chillingworth.

· Sin, experience, and the human condition; the nature of evil;

identity and society

· Civilization versus the wilderness; night versus day; evocative


· The scarlet letter; the town scaffold; the meteor; Pearl; the

rosebush next to the prison door

· Foreshadowing is minimal, because the symbols tend to

coincide temporally with events, enriching their meaning rather than anticipating their occurrence.

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