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The Scarlet Letter Historical Context

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.
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Historical Context

The Transcendentalist Movement

The Scarlet Letter, which takes as its principal subject colonial seventeenth-century New England, was written and published in the middle of the nineteenth century. Hawthorne began writing the novel in 1849, after his dismissal from the Custom-House, and it was published in 1850. The discrepancy between the time represented in the novel and the time of its production has often been a point of confusion to students. Because Hawthorne took an earlier time as his subject, the novel is considered a historical romance written in the midst of the American literary movement called transcendentalism (c. 1836-60).

The principle writers of transcendentalism included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and W H Channing. Transcendentalism was, broadly speaking, a reaction against the rationalism of the previous century and the religious orthodoxy of Calvinist New England Transcendentalism stressed the romantic tenets of mysticism, idealism, and individualism. In religious...

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This section contains 783 words
(approx. 3 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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