Presentation on theme: "The Scarlet Letter Introduction: The Custom House"— Presentation transcript:
1 The Scarlet Letter Introduction: The Custom House Mrs. Wallace
2 Chapter Summary Four significant goals of the preface Outlines autobiographical information about the authorConflict of writing fictionDefines the Romance novelAuthenticates the novel
3 Chapter SummaryNameless narrator working in a Salem “Customs House” finds a manuscript among a pile of old documents.The manuscript is bundled together with a gold embroidered scarlet cloth in the shape of the letter A.Narrator holds the letter A to his chest but drops it because it burns him.Manuscript is the work of Jonathan Pue (custom surveyor 100 years before)Pue, taking an interest in local history, wrote an account of the events taking place 100 years before his time (200 years before narrator’s time).
4 John Pue-Historical Record Frame StoryUnnamed narrator decides to tell the storyJohn Pue-Historical RecordHester Prynne
5 Major Character: The Narrator Unnamed narratorYoung man politically appointed as a surveyorBored with his job and wants to do something moreAfter finding the documents of Hester Prynne’s life wants to write a fictional account of her lifeFeels her life’s story is worth sharing
6 The Narrator Cont.Narrator bears many similarities to Hawthorne himselfTries to write the story, but feels conflictedHe is stuck in a job with no creativity and surrounded by old men that would not approve of “fiction”After political changes lead to his losing his job, he feels free to write Hester’s storyHe resembles Hester in that they are both free spirits that are stifled by their “Puritan” surroundings
7 Theme: Conflict between past and present “’What is he?’ murmurs one gray shadow of my forefather’s to the other. ‘ A writer of story-books! What kind of business in life,--what mode of glorying God or being serviceable to mankid in his day and generation—may that be? Why the degenerate fellow might as well have been a fiddler!’” (Hawthorne 10).Displays the attitude of Hawthorne’s Puritan ancestors and the general disdain for fiction writing and the importance on holding a position that is well looked upon and provides for the greater good.
8 CritiquePease, Donald E. "Hawthorne In The Custom-House: The Metapolitics, Postpolitics, And Politics Of The Scarlet Letter." Boundary (2005): Literary Reference Center. Web. 26 Aug
9 Critique SummaryDonald Pease points out that Hawthorne uses humor to satirize his ancestors’ hypocrisyThe custom house is “haunted” by the ghost of Surveyor PuePue, unable to properly tell Hester’s story “speaks” to the narrator through the scarlet letterHawthorne used The Scarlet Letter as an “anti-curse” to remove the power of the Puritans to make such dreadful pronouncements against othersHawthorne also uses “The Custom House” as a means to air his concern about the political unrest that he was a victim of
10 Critique ResponsePease gives the audience an inside look to Hawthorne’s conflicts with his lifeHawthorne was ashamed of the persecution so many experienced at the hands of his ancestorsHe used the narrator as a way to excuse himself of the “crime” of writing fictionThe Custom House serves as a vehicle to speak out politically, religiously, and to set up similarities between himself, the narrator, and Hester Prynne.
11 What if?What if Nathaniel Hawthorne would have left “The Custom House” out of the novel?I believe that there would not a an emotional connection. Knowing the background of Hawthorne the reader is able to understand the frustration, hurt, and satirical language that he feels and uses.