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The Scarlet Letter Essay | Critical Essay #2

This Study Guide consists of approximately 82 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Scarlet Letter.
This section contains 2,054 words
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Critical Essay #2

In the following excerpt, Sewall discusses Hawthorne's introductory essay, and the emphasis on ambiguity throughout The Scarlet Letter.

There is something reminiscent of now familiar processes in Hawthorne's account of the origin and growth of the idea of The Scarlet Letter in the introductory essay to the novel, "The Custom House." He tells (albeit whimsically) of finding one day the scarlet letter itself—"that certain affair of fine red cloth"—in his rummagings about the Custom House and of how it, and the old manuscript which told its story, set him to certain somber musings. The old story of a bygone, dire event and its decaying symbol rayed out meanings to his imagination as surely as the ancient myths and legends revealed new meanings to the Greek and Elizabethan dramatists. "Certainly [Hawthorne writes], there was some deep meaning in it, most worthy of interpretation, and which...

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This section contains 2,054 words
(approx. 7 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Scarlet Letter Study Guide
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The Scarlet Letter from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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