A young woman, Hester Prynne, has been found guilty of adultery and must wear a scarlet A on her dress as a sign of shame.
Original Text Modern Text It is a little remarkable, that—though disinclined to talk overmuch of myself and my affairs at the fireside, and to my personal friends—an Scarlet letter notes impulse should twice in my life have taken possession of me, in addressing the public.
The first time was three or four years since, when I favored the reader—inexcusably, and for no earthly reason, that either the indulgent reader or the intrusive author could imagine—with a description of my way of life in the deep quietude of an Old Manse.
The truth seems to be, however, that, when he casts his leaves forth upon the wind, the author addresses, not the many who will fling aside his volume, or never take it up, but the few who will understand him, better than most of his schoolmates and lifemates.
It is scarcely decorous, however, to speak all, even where we speak impersonally. But—as thoughts are frozen and utterance benumbed, unless the speaker stand in some true relation with his audience—it may be pardonable to imagine that a friend, a kind and apprehensive, though not the closest friend, is listening to our talk; and then, a native reserve being thawed by this genial consciousness, we may prate of the circumstances that lie around us, and even of ourself, but still Scarlet letter notes the inmost Me behind its veil.
The first time was three or four years ago, when I published for no good reason a story about my way of life in the deep calm of the Old Manse. Still, since thoughts are frozen and voices silent unless the writer has some true relationship with his audience, I might be forgiven for imagining that a friend—a kind, insightful, though not especially close friend—is reading as I write.
In this way, I think an author can write about his life without crossing the line with the reader or with himself. It will be seen, likewise, that this Custom-House sketch has a certain propriety, of a kind always recognized in literature, as explaining how a large portion of the following pages came into my possession, and as offering proofs of the authenticity of a narrative therein contained.
This, in fact—a desire to put myself in my true position as editor, or very little more, of the most prolix among the tales that make up my volume,—this, and no other, is my true reason for assuming a personal relation with the public.
In accomplishing the main purpose, it has appeared allowable, by a few extra touches, to give a faint representation of a mode of life not heretofore described, together with some of the characters that move in it, among whom the author happened to make one. This sketch of the Custom House takes the polite step, as is common in literature, of explaining how the story that follows came into my possession, and offering proof that the story is real.
In my native town of Salem, at the head of what, half a century ago, in the days of old King Derby; was a bustling wharf,—but which is now burdened with decayed wooden warehouses, and exhibits few or no symptoms of commercial life; except, perhaps, a bark or brig, half-way down its melancholy length, discharging hides; or, nearer at hand, a Nova Scotia schooner, pitching out her cargo of firewood,—at the head, I say, of this dilapidated wharf, which the tide often overflows, and along which, at the base and in the rear of the row of buildings, the track of many languid years is seen in a border of unthrifty grass,—here, with a view from its front windows adown this not very enlivening prospect, and thence across the harbour, stands a spacious edifice of brick.
Its front is ornamented with a portico of half a dozen wooden pillars, supporting a balcony, beneath which a flight of wide granite steps descends towards the street. Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American eagle, with outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I recollect aright, a bunch of intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw.
With the customary infirmity of temper that characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears, by the fierceness of her beak and eye and the general truculency of her attitude, to threaten mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all citizens, careful of their safety, against intruding on the premises which she overshadows with her wings.
Nevertheless, vixenly as she looks, many people are seeking, at this very moment, to shelter themselves under the wing of the federal eagle; imagining, I presume, that her bosom has all the softness and snugness of an eider-down pillow.
But she has no great tenderness, even in her best of moods, and, sooner or later,—oftener soon than late,—is apt to fling off her nestlings with a scratch of her claw, a dab of her beak, or a rankling wound from her barbed arrows. In my native Salem, there is a wharf that was bustling fifty years ago but is now decaying and almost empty, aside from a few trading ships unloading their cargo.
The tide often overflows the wharf, and overgrown grass tells the story of many slow years. At the end of this dilapidated wharf, overlooking the bleak view, is a big brick building.
For three and a half hours each morning, from the roof of the building, a U. In the front of the building, six wooden pillars support a balcony, and a flight of wide stone steps descends to the street. Despite her scary appearance, many people are, at this very moment, trying to shelter themselves under the wing of the federal government.
But the bird is vicious in even her best moods, and sooner or later usually soonershe flings off the shelter-seekers with her claw, beak, or arrows.Symbols Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
The Scarlet Letter. The scarlet letter is meant to be a symbol of shame, but instead it becomes a powerful symbol of identity to Hester.
From a general summary to chapter summaries to explanations of famous quotes, the SparkNotes The Scarlet Letter Study Guide has everything you need to ace quizzes, tests, and essays. The Scarlet Letter was an immediate success for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, the United States was still a relatively new society, less than one hundred years old at the time of the novel’s publication.
Indeed, still tied to Britain in its cultural formation, Hawthorne's novel offered. From a general summary to chapter summaries to explanations of famous quotes, the SparkNotes The Scarlet Letter Study Guide has everything you need to ace quizzes, tests, and essays. No Fear Literature by SparkNotes features the complete edition of The Scarlet Letter side-by-side with an accessible, plain English translation.
Nov 01, · Check out Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Video SparkNote: Quick and easy The Scarlet Letter synopsis, analysis, and discussion of major characters and themes in the novel.