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The Scarlet Letter Key Reading Points Chapters 7-9.

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1 The Scarlet Letter Key Reading Points Chapters 7-9

2 Ch. 7: Pg. 119 There was fire in her and throughout her; she seemed the unpremeditated offshoot of a passionate moment. Her mother, in contriving the child’s garb, had allowed the gorgeous tendencies of her imagination their full play; arraying her in a crimson velvet tunic, of a peculiar cut, abundantly embroidered in fantasies and flourishes of gold thread…. It was the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed with life! The mother herself—as if the red ignominy were so deeply scorched into her brain, that all her conceptions assumed its form—had carefully wrought out the similitude; lavishing many hours of morbid ingenuity, to create an analogy between the object of her affection, and the emblem of her guilt and torture.

3 Can you... 1) Paraphrase Hawthorne’s words on pg. 119? 2) Make any connections with Transcendentalist philosophy? 3) Examine what we are seeing here with Hester? Pearl?

4 Emergence of a Motif Ch. 7 - Pg. 121 “No, my little Pearl!” said her mother. “Thou must gather thine own sunshine. I have none to give thee!” Light/Dark imagery abounds in The Scarlet Letter. What are the implications of this statement Hester makes about sun? Can you infer how Hawthorne will use Light/Dark imagery going forward?


6 Ch. 8- Pg. 128 “…in close companionship with him, old Roger Chillingworth, a person of great skill in physic, who, for two or three years, past had been settled in the town. It was understood that this learned man was the physician as well as friend of the young minister, whose health had severely suffered, of late, by his too unreserved self-sacrifice to the labors and duties of the pastoral relation.” We should be able to make some inferences from this interesting set of details. What do you make of this passage?

7 Ch. 8- Pg. 132 “Old Roger Chillingworth” “Hester Prynne looked at the man of skill, and even then, with her fate hanging in the balance, was startled to perceive what a change had come over his features,—how much uglier they were,—how his dark complexion seemed to have grown duskier, and his figure more misshapen,—since the days when she had familiarly known him. She met his eyes for an instant, but was immediately constrained to give all her attention to the scene now going forward.” What is happening to Chillingworth? (Level 1) What insight in to mankind is Hawthorne evincing? (Level 2) READ CLOSELY WHENEVER YOU ARE PRESENTED WITH DETAILS OF CHILLINGWORTH’S ACTIONS, WORDS, or APPEARANCE.

8 Ch. 8 – Pg. 135 “You speak, my friend, with a strange earnestness,” said old Roger Chillingworth, smiling at him.” Your thoughts???

9 Chapter 9 – The Leech Pg. 140 “Unknown to all but Hester Prynne, and possessing the lock and key of her silence, he chose to withdraw his name from the roll of mankind, and, as regarded his former ties and interest, to vanish out of life as completely as if he indeed lay at the bottom of the ocean, whither rumor had long ago consigned him. This purpose once effected, new interests would immediately spring up, and likewise a new purpose; dark, it is true, if not guilty, but of force enough to engage the full strength of his faculties.” Explicate this passage. Infer what Chillingworth’s role is becoming both in terms of plot and theme.

10 Ch. 9- Pg. 142 Dimmesdale in decay “His form grew emaciated; his voice, though still rich and sweet, had a certain melancholy prophecy of decay in it; he was often observed, on any slight alarm or other sudden accident, to put his hand over his heart, with first a flush and then a paleness, indicative of pain.” Read and think deeply here. Explicate the details of this passage.

11 Ch. 9 – Pg. 146 “He deemed it essential, it would seem, to know the man, before attempting to do him good. Wherever there is a heart and an intellect, the diseases of the physical frame are tinged with the peculiarities of these. In Arthur Dimmesdale, thought and imagination were so active, and sensibility so intense, that the bodily infirmity would be likely to have its groundwork there. So Roger Chillingworth—the man of skill, the kind and friendly physician—strove to go deep into his patient’s bosom, delving among his principles, prying into his recollections, and probing every thing with a cautious touch, like a treasure-seeker in a dark cavern. Few secrets can escape an investigator, who has opportunity and license to undertake such a quest, and skill to follow it up. A man burdened with a secret should especially avoid the intimacy of his physician. “ Hawthorne is pretty clear here – what is going on?

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