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Thread: Term Paper on The Scarlet Letter

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    Term Paper on The Scarlet Letter

    The following paper will discuss Nathaniel Hawthorne’s work, The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850. In the paper I will discuss one of the main characters, Hester Prynne, and her behavior. I will claim that the author uses Hester and the characters she interacts with as an allegory for the revolutionary spirit present in the colonies of America prior to, during, and in the aftermath of the American Revolutionary War in 1776. This is done throughout the entire book and in no particular chronological order.

    As with every work, I find it fitting to start at the beginning. In chapter 2, even before Hester Prynne leaves the prison, she is preceded by the beadle “with a sword by his side, and his staff of office in his hand”, who draws her forward until she repels him and takes the final steps by herself. This act can be compared to the earlier history of the colonies, with the beadle himself representing the Puritan law and way of life of the early colonists, while the sword and staff of office together combine to represent the dualism of life in the colonies, both religious and secular at the same time. The final steps taken without the beadle can themselves represent the final steps taken by the Americans prior to the Declaration of Independence, removing the Church from the equation, which later is given official sanction in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the USA.

    In the very next paragraph, we see how Hester finally faces the crowd “with a burning blush, and yet a haughty smile, and a glance that would not be abashed”. I claim that the same way Hester Prynne decides to face the crowd can be compared to the feeling amongst the colonial settlers prior to declaring Independence. The Loyalists, those that wished to remain loyal to the British Crown, are the “burning blush”, while their opposites, the Revolutionaries, are the “haughty smile” and the “glance that would not be abashed”. This combination of both hesitancy and pride in Hester Prynne meshes well with the combination of hesitancy on the Loyalists’ part and pride and eagerness on the Revolutionaries’ part regarding the issue of separation from the Crown.

    Hester Prynne’s walk to the scaffold “might be reckoned a journey of some length; for haughty as her demeanour was, she perchance underwent an agony from every footstep”. In this, I find a very clear comparison to the American Revolutionary War itself. As described before, the Revolutionaries had pride in themselves and in their cause, yet the war itself could be accurately described as an agony on behalf of the nation in every footstep in the path to independence.

    In Chapter 5, at the end of her confinement period, the author describes one of the many problems facing Hester Prynne: “Tomorrow would bring its own trial with it; so would the next day, and so would the next: each its own trial, and yet the very same that was now so unutterably grievous to be borne.” I would like to claim that this accurately portrays the problems the now free Americans faced once independence was gained. The tasks of building and running a government and a country entailed within them problems and issues every single day, and very often these issues repeat themselves. We can even see this looking at the same US government today that strives to deal with some of the same problems dealt with over 200 years ago, including taxes, wars and others.

    In Chapter 7, Hester Prynne goes to the Governors house to fight for the right to keep her child, Pearl. In Hester’s willingness to fight someone both higher in stature than her and stronger than her, physically and politically, I see the same fighting spirit that led the Revolutionaries to fight the British Crown, whose reach was not only nearing the height of its strength and size, but also had a standing army that was much larger and stronger than the army the Americans were able to field.

    When trying to find some sort of motivation for Hawthorne’s writing and why he would choose to make this allegory, I found an answer in his introduction to the book, “The Custom House”. President Taylor is elected into office as President (“A remarkable event of the third year of my Surveyorship … was the election of General Taylor to the Presidency”), and being on the losing side, Nathaniel Hawthorne begins contemplating his upcoming removal from office: “But it is a strange experience, to a man of pride and sensibility, to know that his interests are within the control of individuals who neither love nor understand him”. This sounds very much like the situation the colonies were in before the American Revolutionary War. The interests of the colonies and the settlers were in the hands of, and under the control of, the British Crown, which at best professed ambivalence towards the colonies and at worst portrayed outright aggression, violence and hostility towards them.

    Using the above examples, I once again would like to restate my original claim that the author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, uses Hester and the characters she interacts with as an allegory for the revolutionary spirit present in the colonies of America prior to, during, and in the aftermath of the American Revolutionary War.
    Please let me know what you guys think, if I managed to get the point across and if there's something you think needs fixing. I wrote it in such a fashion that hopefully you'll be able to read the paper and get the point even if you were lucky enough not to have read the book itself.

    Cheers,
    Ben
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    I read it quickly , one thing I noticed was the first sentence in the second paragraph. Is it better without that?
    "If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
    If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

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    Ben,

    I think you need to re-read the work again. There's a hell of a lot of social comments, politics is not one of them.

    I really, really hate it when people read more into the works than what is actually written. Authors are careful to choose their words so that they present their ideas clear and not cloudy. The old saying, if you cannot mean what you say, then, you cannot say what you mean. Yeah, I've done it, to purposely cloud a meaning through my words but the purpose was always clear. Case in point. A UNSC non-ruling may not be legal but it is clearly not illegal.

    In this case, while there may be hints of discontent of the American colonies, THE SCARLET LETTER was clearly a commentary on the morality of the times.

    If you or your prof accepts your premis, well, get your prof's supplier because he's clearly smoking some good sh!t.

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    Well, I originally was going to use Hester Prynne as a timeline of America from the settlements until 1850, but the TA doesn't want us to use external sources, I could only use the book. The TA is going to be the one checking and grading, and I worked out the thesis question with her.
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    I like the premise very much.

    In fact, I think that you might be on track in thinking that one of Hawthorns's sotto voce points was precisely that.

    Of course, another very cool theory about that book is that it was a murder mystery.

    There's no reason whatever to imagine that the book cannot be many things on many levels because it clearly offers its more astute readers editorial comments that support such literary theories.

    Great literature tends to explore more than one issue, and offers readers different concepts on many different levels.

    The intro --The Customs House -- alerts the reader at the onset that this novel is much about the changes that are occuring as the Puritanic social values gave way to the "age of enlightenment"

    Such literary exploration of that transition in philosophy and the values that stem from that change can be found im most of his works, really.
    Last edited by editec; 30 May 11, at 11:36.

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    I stopped with the introduction. You shouldn't ever state anything in a way that is telling the reader what you're going to do. Try to make the introduction exciting and find common ground that you can connect with. Then put in a thesis. The first sentence should be completely reworded or else you will have a teach down your throat.

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    The following paper will discuss Nathaniel Hawthorne’s work, The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850. In the paper I will discuss one of the main characters, Hester Prynne, and her behavior. I will claim that the author uses Hester and the characters she interacts with as an allegory for the revolutionary spirit present in the colonies of America prior to, during, and in the aftermath of the American Revolutionary War in 1776. This is done throughout the entire book and in no particular chronological order.
    Not will claim, does claim. Also your intro is too telegraphed and yet lacks an enticing thesis statement. Consider something like: When examining Hester Payne, what is observed is a character who serves as an allegory to the revolutionary spirit in the Colonies prior to, during and in the aftermath of the American Revolution. These allegories appear throughout the book and as such, it can only have been Nathaniel Hawthorne's intent when he wrote The Scarlett Letter.


    As with every work, I find it fitting to start at the beginning. In chapter 2, even before Hester Prynne leaves the prison, she is preceded by the beadle “with a sword by his side, and his staff of office in his hand”, who draws her forward until she repels him and takes the final steps by herself. This act can be compared to the earlier history of the colonies, with the beadle himself representing the Puritan law and way of life of the early colonists, while the sword and staff of office together combine to represent the dualism of life in the colonies, both religious and secular at the same time. The final steps taken without the beadle can themselves represent the final steps taken by the Americans prior to the Declaration of Independence, removing the Church from the equation, which later is given official sanction in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the USA.

    In the very next paragraph, we see how Hester finally faces the crowd “with a burning blush, and yet a haughty smile, and a glance that would not be abashed”. I claim that the same way Hester Prynne decides to face the crowd can be compared to the feeling amongst the colonial settlers prior to declaring Independence. The Loyalists, those that wished to remain loyal to the British Crown, are the “burning blush”, while their opposites, the Revolutionaries, are the “haughty smile” and the “glance that would not be abashed”. This combination of both hesitancy and pride in Hester Prynne meshes well with the combination of hesitancy on the Loyalists’ part and pride and eagerness on the Revolutionaries’ part regarding the issue of separation from the Crown.

    Hester Prynne’s walk to the scaffold “might be reckoned a journey of some length; for haughty as her demeanour was, she perchance underwent an agony from every footstep”. In this, I find a very clear comparison to the American Revolutionary War itself. As described before, the Revolutionaries had pride in themselves and in their cause, yet the war itself could be accurately described as an agony on behalf of the nation in every footstep in the path to independence.

    In Chapter 5, at the end of her confinement period, the author describes one of the many problems facing Hester Prynne: “Tomorrow would bring its own trial with it; so would the next day, and so would the next: each its own trial, and yet the very same that was now so unutterably grievous to be borne.” I would like to claim that this accurately portrays the problems the now free Americans faced once independence was gained. The tasks of building and running a government and a country entailed within them problems and issues every single day, and very often these issues repeat themselves. We can even see this looking at the same US government today that strives to deal with some of the same problems dealt with over 200 years ago, including taxes, wars and others.

    In Chapter 7, Hester Prynne goes to the Governors house to fight for the right to keep her child, Pearl. In Hester’s willingness to fight someone both higher in stature than her and stronger than her, physically and politically, I see the same fighting spirit that led the Revolutionaries to fight the British Crown, whose reach was not only nearing the height of its strength and size, but also had a standing army that was much larger and stronger than the army the Americans were able to field.

    When trying to find some sort of motivation for Hawthorne’s writing and why he would choose to make this allegory, I found an answer in his introduction to the book, “The Custom House”. President Taylor is elected into office as President (“A remarkable event of the third year of my Surveyorship … was the election of General Taylor to the Presidency”), and being on the losing side, Nathaniel Hawthorne begins contemplating his upcoming removal from office: “But it is a strange experience, to a man of pride and sensibility, to know that his interests are within the control of individuals who neither love nor understand him”. This sounds very much like the situation the colonies were in before the American Revolutionary War. The interests of the colonies and the settlers were in the hands of, and under the control of, the British Crown, which at best professed ambivalence towards the colonies and at worst portrayed outright aggression, violence and hostility towards them.

    Using the above examples, I once again would like to restate my original claim that the author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, uses Hester and the characters she interacts with as an allegory for the revolutionary spirit present in the colonies of America prior to, during, and in the aftermath of the American Revolutionary War.
    You use way too many I's. 1 being too many. Let your work speak for you while keeping your obvious presence as limited as possible.

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    I handed this in two years ago and got a 90-something, so it all worked out in the end....
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    shoulda checked the date...

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigross86 View Post
    I handed this in two years ago and got a 90-something, so it all worked out in the end....
    Nothing to add to what the good Col said over 2 years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    If you or your prof accepts your premis, well, get your prof's supplier because he's clearly smoking some good sh!t.
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    Indeed, most profs outside the applied sciences do smoke good (or bad, depending on you view) shit, and one must allow for this when writing to them
    In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility

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    Oh the kittens!!!
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    I didn't know this when writing the paper (but I do 2 years later), but basically the TA's wanted you to pick an outlandish argument and then defend it, just to see if you could. Today I never would have written a paper on that topic, but back then it made perfect sense. See, turns out I did learn something at uni!
    Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

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