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Concepts: Archetypes and Transcendentalism

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1 Concepts: Archetypes and Transcendentalism
The Scarlet Letter Concepts: Archetypes and Transcendentalism ADAPTED FROM: Clayton, Katy. THE SCARLET LETTER AND TRANSCENDENTALISM Guelcher, William: THE SCARLET LETTER: STRATEGIES IN TEACHING: Idea Works Inc., Eagan Minnesota, 1989. Van Kirk, Susan: HAWTHORNE’S THE SCARLET LETTER: CliffsNotes. IDG Books Worldwide Inc., Forest City, California., 2000.

2 archetypes An archetype is a generic, idealized model of a person, object, or concept from which similar instances are derived, copied, patterned, or emulated.

3 Example: the star-crossed lovers (almost) all of you have studied.
archetypes Example: the star-crossed lovers (almost) all of you have studied. This is the young couple joined by love but unexpectedly parted by fate. Romeo and Juliet from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet have been immortalized as the archetypes of true love because they are willing to sacrifice everything — including themselves —for their love.

4 archetypes Archetypes can also be places or seasons Wasteland: Little or no water. No harmony (man vs. man or man vs. nature). Dominant colors: red, black, gray, or brown. Extreme temperatures. Insufficient food, shelter, and clothing. Hate, distrust, and evil. Country vs. City: simplicity vs. complexity; purity vs. corruption. Spring: birth, childhood, a new beginning. River or stream: crossing, transformation. Fountains: purification, baptism. Islands: isolation, magical wilderness. Forest: wild place; those who enter often lose their direction. Garden: Perfect society. Harmony between nature and mankind. Dominant colors of green and gold. Freedom from evil and suffering. Abundance of water, food, clothes, and shelter.

5 archetypes The Garden Archetype is characterized by paradise; innocence; unspoiled beauty (especially feminine); fertility. In the garden archetype it is forever spring because spring is the time of love and beauty and birth. The “New World” became a new version of the garden archetype. This archetype is most often represented by the Garden of Eden from the book of Genesis, in which humanity lives in perfect peace and harmony with nature in a tranquil and nonviolent environment created by a higher being.

6 garden of eden The Scarlet Letter could be seen as the reverse of the Garden of Eden story. In that story, Adam and Eve begin in a state of primal innocence and through their own volition, fall from the state of grace by their sin and thereby condemn the world to Satan.

7 Garden of eden “Much like Adam and Eve, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne are symbolically cast out of Paradise for their sin, forced to suffer, toil, and confront their guilt at their transgression of society's norms.”

8 Garden of eden The Puritans believed that Eve’s corruption extended to all women, which justified making women lesser citizens within the church hierarchy. However, women were looked upon as critical to the success of the Puritan colonies in North America (in terms of contributing to harmonious marriage and godly children).

9 Garden of eden The Scarlet Letter begins with a serious sin having been committed, and Hester, the new “Eve,” rises from the evil of sin to the grace of God. The message is that we can re-enter Paradise in this life through our efforts. This is Hawthorne’s way of dealing with the universal problems of good and evil, and the dilemmas humankind encounters in sorting between them.

10 Garden of eden In this “new Eve” metaphor, Hawthorne reverses the traditional literary role of woman from the seductress who profanes man to the prophetess who delivers man. In Chapter 17, Dimmesdale acknowledges that his salvation is bound up with Hester’s strength. Hawthorne hints the future redemption of humankind will come through the strength of womanhood.

11 A parable Hawthorne has constructed a parable in which the lesson is that a person is not condemned for having sinned; rather one is condemned for the way in which the sin imperils the personality. Guelcher: “In the final analysis of religious thinking, we are not condemned by God or Satan. We condemn ourselves.”

12 Transcendentalism: An introduction
Transcendentalism Took form in New England, mainly Concord, MA around 1836 when Ralph Waldo Emerson published Nature. Major thinkers include Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott. Part of a larger literary movement called Romanticism, which emphasized the importance of nature, emotions and individualism.

13 Transcendentalism: an introduction
Ideals The individual is important; inherently good; has free will Conscience, morality and intuition are present at birth Intuition is what one must use to perceive basic truths Each individual is connected to God God is omnipresent One of the best ways to connect to God is through nature.

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