The Scarlet Letter Study Guide

Transcendentalism was a religious and philosophical movement of the early nineteenth century that was dedicated to the belief that divinity manifests itself everywhere, particularly in the natural world. It also advocated a personalized, direct relationship with the divine in place of formalized, structured religion. This second transcendental idea is privileged in The Scarlet Letter. After marrying fellow transcendentalist Sophia Peabody in 1842, Hawthorne left Brook Farm and moved into the Old Manse, a home in Concord where Emerson had once lived.
In 1846 he published Mosses from an Old Manse, a collection of essays and stories, many of which are about early America. Mosses from an Old Manse earned Hawthorne the attention of the literary establishment because America was trying to establish a cultural independence to complement its political independence, and Hawthorn’s collection of stories displayed both a stylistic freshness and an interest in American subject matter. Herman Melville, among others, hailed Hawthorne as the “American Shakespeare. ” In 1845 Hawthorne again went to work as a customs surveyor, this time, like the orator of The Scarlet Letter, at a post in Salem.
In 1850, after having lost the Job, he published The Scarlet Letter to enthusiastic, if not widespread, acclaim. His other major novels include The House of the Seven Gables (1851), The Blithered Romance (1852), and The Marble Faun (1860). In 1853 Hawthorn’s college friend Franklin Pierce, for whom he had written a campaign biography and who had since become president, appointed Hawthorne a United States consul. The writer spent the next six years in Europe. He died in 1864, a few years after returning to America.

The majority of Hawthorn’s work takes America’s Puritan past as its subject, but The Scarlet Letter uses the material to greatest effect. The Puritans were a group of religious reformers who arrived in Massachusetts in the sass under the leadership of John Winthrop (whose death is recounted in the novel). The religious sect was known for its intolerance of dissenting ideas and lifestyles. In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses the repressive, authoritarian Puritan society as an analogue for humankind in general. The Puritan setting also enables him to portray the human OLL under extreme pressures.
Hester, Timescale, and Chlorinating, while unquestionably part of the Puritan society in which they live, also reflect universal experiences. Hawthorne speaks specifically to American issues, but he circumvents the aesthetic and thematic limitations that might accompany such a focus. His universality and his dramatic flair have ensured his place in the literary canon. MORE HELP Read No Fear The Scarlet Letter Buy the print The Scarlet Letter Soapstone on BAN. Com Buy the eBook of this Soapstone on BAN. Com Download the PDF of this Soapstone on BAN. Com

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