The Scarlet Letter Essay

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In the following essay, James, a doctoral candidate at Yale University, explores the historical concerns that shaped The Scarlet Letter and how Hester Prynne's emblem serves as several types of imagery

Nathaniel Hawthorne envisioned The Scarlet Letter as a short story to be published in a collection, but it outgrew that purpose. Most critics accept Hawthorne's definition of it as a "romance," rather than as a novel. It usually appears with an introductory autobiographical essay, "The Custom-House,"_ in which Hawthorne describes working in his ancestral village, Salem, Massachusetts, as a customs officer. Hawthorne describes coming across certain documents in the customs house that provide him with the basis for The Scarlet Letter. But this essay fictionalizes the origins of the story in that it offers "proofs of the authenticity of a narrative therein contained." Following other literary examples in early American literature, like Washington Irving's History of New...

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This section contains 1,907 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Scarlet Letter Study Guide
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The Scarlet Letter from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.