On your first read, "The Custom House" seems to have little or nothing to do with the "real" narrative of The Scarlet Letter, the story of Hester Prynne, yet Hawthorne's introductory essay establishes his narrative voice and justifies the origins of Hester's story. Write an analytical essay that argues the importance of this introduction to the narrative structure of the book. Key terms to consider are: frame narrative, narrative voice/point-of-view, symbolism, public/private life, etc.
Hawthorne's preface to this novel claims that he has gotten himself in trouble for an unflattering portrait of the Customs Inspector, yet nonetheless, the novel features many real historical people anyway. Take up one of these real historical persons (for example, Governor Bellingham or Mistress Hibbins) and offer a descriptive analysis of their role in the narrative. How does Hawthorne characterize these real historical people? To what dramatic purposes or...
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