Scarlet Letter, The - E-Guide
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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic American novel masterfully explores not only the historical and moral roots of America, but the terrible results of one sinful act upon all those involved. Hawthorne mixes Puritanism with the birth of Romanticism as he examines sin, guilt, vengeance, and redemption.
Hester Prynne has traveled alone to America to prepare a home for herself and her husband. In her husband's long absence Hester commits adultery and gives birth to a child. In accordance with the town's strict moral law, Hester is punished, (though leniently for this time period). She is sentenced to stand for several hours on the town's scaffold exposed to public shame and to wear a scarlet "A" for the rest of her life.
Hester's partner in sin, a prominent member of the community, remains silent about his own guilt, and Hester refuses to reveal his identity. Meanwhile, Hester's long-absent husband, Roger Chillingworth, returns on the very day Hester must endure her public humiliation. He decides to remain silent concerning his own identity but determines to seek revenge on Hester's lover.
English/Language Arts credit: This is a one-quarter credit high school level Literature curriculum.
Background Information: Do some research to learn more about the early history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Romanticism, and Transcendentalism.
Vocabulary: Understand words used throughout the novel, utilizing a variety of activities to stimulate retention and growth.
Literary Techniques: Grammar and parts of speech, root words, foreshadowing, imagery, synonym, personification, compare & contrast, in context.
Moral Lessons and Character Values: Keeping secrets, lying, shame, penance, and martyrdom, judging others, correction and pride, vengeance, confession, subjective morality, reconciliation with God.
Activities and Writing Assignments: Pre-reading analysis papers on civil government, biblical view of sin, biblical response to people. Brook Farm research. Point-of-view summary essay. Puritanism research paper. Analyze patterns in novel.
Suggestions for Further Reading: We include an in-depth reading list of more books by the same author(s) and other books that tie in with, or are similar to, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
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