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OT: The Scarlet Letter

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  • tanya
    replied
    Re: OT: The Scarlet Letter

    I love it! The Scarlet Letter would be F! You are right!

    I think there was something that made it obvious that it was a one-time event, but I can't remember where it is.

    Tanya

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  • pickandgrin
    replied
    Re: OT: The Scarlet Letter

    Originally posted by Anita View Post
    1) She was known to be married. Her family/husband (?) had sent her in ahead to Massachusetts so her husband could stay behind and attend to his studies (in England? In another colony? I don’t remember.). He was assumed captured and killed by Indians, by Hester and everyone else. Adultery was her sin simply because it was an act outside of marriage (?). That was my take. (Somebody find Kyle! He knows all this stuff!)
    If Chillingsworth would have been dead, then her sin would have been fornication, right? The scarlet "F" doesn't pack the same punch though. Because they gave her the "A" I assumed that meant they all thought her husband lived. Poor girl. Her former life sounds miserable. Was Chillingsworth's former name Prynne? He never told that I noticed. Did they change their names then? I don't know.

    I was constantly wondering how in the world two people like Arthur and Hester (at least the versions we meet all these years later) ever had the inclination or opportunity (everyone is so nosey! no one is ever alone...) to commit this act in the first place. And was it only once, or an ongoing relationship? No details. Just little Pearl.

    Lastly, the split second decision of Chillingsworth to conceal himself in the moment of his return was, well, chilling. Who can calculate that quickly? Creepy.

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  • KF2000
    replied
    Re: OT: The Scarlet Letter

    Originally posted by Anita View Post
    1) She was known to be married. Her family/husband (?) had sent her in ahead to Massachusetts so her husband could stay behind and attend to his studies (in England? In another colony? I don’t remember.). He was assumed captured and killed by Indians, by Hester and everyone else. Adultery was her sin simply because it was an act outside of marriage (?). That was my take. (Somebody find Kyle! He knows all this stuff!)
    2) Dimmesdale committed himself to unmarried celibacy, even though it was not required. He felt as if he failed God on two counts — adultery and celibacy. Thus he could not marry Hester after the fact. First: it would bring scandal on the Church. Second: it would likely have meant his giving up his priesthood. Third: He would have openly defaulted on his vow of celibacy. So he lived with the guilt.
    Yes, thank you - that was the refresher I needed.
    AMDG,
    Sarah
    Last edited by KF2000; 12-13-2017, 01:32 PM.

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  • pickandgrin
    replied
    Re: OT: The Scarlet Letter

    Originally posted by tanya View Post
    They are still married, but no one in the village knows it. But Chillingworth was gone so long that Hester probably thought he was dead! That doesn't excuse her sleeping with Dimmesdale, but it doesn't seem as bad as if she thought it was adultery. Which brings up another point: If Chillingworth was missing for 7 years, why didn't Hester and Dimmesdale just get married? Then what would have happened when Chillingworth reappeared? That would be a totally different book.

    Tanya
    Yes, I was curious about how they lived for YEARS within eyeshot and seemed to only speak once every few years (HP and AD). At the very end...spoiler....space down


    .
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    In that last moment was wondering if the townspeople might be thinking that Arthur was going to her, as in the parable some thought they saw unfolding, to take her and Pearl to himself in some act of redemption, the pious clergyman taking the once-fallen women as his wife. Of course, AD knows she's married and that Chillingsworth is alive, but the town doesn't. He suffers privately the entire time but only publicly for a few moments. It reminded me of the workers who get the same wages even though some had to toil in the heat of day and others showed up right before dinner.

    Tanya, did you all discuss whose sin/s was/were most grievous? I know that's not generally a healthy conversation to be having (haha!), but in literature I think it's interesting. Of course, the entire backdrop is a town full of humans who sin. That probably stood out to me foremost: the obvious fact that everyone in the story sins, but only a few (mostly Hester) are selected for public punishment. Is Hester's only sin adultery? (of course not) Is anyone's sin only one thing? (no)

    This is written quickly--I apologize in advance for any messes. Just happy to be finished and reflecting with you all!

    Leave a comment:


  • Anita
    replied
    Re: OT: The Scarlet Letter

    Originally posted by tanya View Post
    They are still married, but no one in the village knows it. But Chillingworth was gone so long that Hester probably thought he was dead! That doesn't excuse her sleeping with Dimmesdale, but it doesn't seem as bad as if she thought it was adultery. Which brings up another point: If Chillingworth was missing for 7 years, why didn't Hester and Dimmesdale just get married? Then what would have happened when Chillingworth reappeared? That would be a totally different book.

    Tanya
    1) She was known to be married. Her family/husband (?) had sent her in ahead to Massachusetts so her husband could stay behind and attend to his studies (in England? In another colony? I don’t remember.). He was assumed captured and killed by Indians, by Hester and everyone else. Adultery was her sin simply because it was an act outside of marriage (?). That was my take. (Somebody find Kyle! He knows all this stuff!)
    2) Dimmesdale committed himself to unmarried celibacy, even though it was not required. He felt as if he failed God on two counts — adultery and celibacy. Thus he could not marry Hester after the fact. First: it would bring scandal on the Church. Second: it would likely have meant his giving up his priesthood. Third: He would have openly defaulted on his vow of celibacy. So he lived with the guilt.

    Leave a comment:


  • KF2000
    replied
    Re: OT: The Scarlet Letter

    Refresh my memory....did Hester wear a wedding ring? As in, had she been assumed by the community to be a married woman prior to the events of the plot? I can't remember, and I did not have a chance to reread...so i have just been lurking because I love the book. (Hasn't been THAT long...had it in school with oldest just a year or two ago)

    My take on it is that Dimmesdale could not bring himself to rectify the situation principally because of the guilt of his unconfessed sin. He may have thought Hester was married but her husband was missing (I can't remember now), or simply the sin of giving in to temptation outside of marriage would be "enough" for him to feel as though he had disgraced both of them. In this way he is the embodiment of Puritan legalism and scrupulosity.

    I think Hester did repent; she was simply able to live with it better because she did not have to hide it - her son was "confessed" in a way because the results of it were so obvious. It is the fact of hiding sin that lets it eat away at us, as Dimmesdale shows.

    AMDG,
    Sarah

    Leave a comment:


  • tanya
    replied
    Re: OT: The Scarlet Letter

    They are still married, but no one in the village knows it. But Chillingworth was gone so long that Hester probably thought he was dead! That doesn't excuse her sleeping with Dimmesdale, but it doesn't seem as bad as if she thought it was adultery. Which brings up another point: If Chillingworth was missing for 7 years, why didn't Hester and Dimmesdale just get married? Then what would have happened when Chillingworth reappeared? That would be a totally different book.

    Tanya

    Leave a comment:


  • Anita
    replied
    Re: OT: The Scarlet Letter

    Originally posted by pickandgrin View Post
    Just finished! Is it in bad taste that I think this book is really funny? Hawthorne was constantly making me smirk. To update friends, I listened (Doneeta (sp?) Peters, narrator) and skipped The Customs House (because Tanya said I could).

    One random question from the very beginning: did HP spend her entire pregnancy in prison, give birth there, and then remain there for three months after with her baby?
    I smirked a lot too, Jessica; wry, that Hawthorne.

    I assumed Hester was imprisoned as soon as she was found to be pregnant and not let out until Pearl was three months old. So possibly for about six or seven months, total, depending on how well she kept her pregnancy hidden. But that’s an assumption. It just felt like something the Purtitans would have done to an adulteress.

    My biggest question is, aren’t Hester and Chillingsworth still rightfully married? They speak as though they were divorced, but that’s not actually the case (is it)? So she’s not actually free to do as she pleases in any case. And Chillingsworth is not doing right by Hester in not admitting who he is. A bit hypocritical there, Rog.

    I like this bit from Cliffs Notes online:
    When Chillingworth arrives in the colony and learns of Hester's situation, he leaves her alone nearly seven years as he single-mindedly pursues Dimmesdale. He does, however, see his role in her downfall. Because he married her when she was young and beautiful and then shut himself away with his books, he realizes that their marriage did not follow "the laws of nature." He could not believe she, who was so beautiful, could marry a man "misshapen since my birth hour." He deluded himself that his intellectual gifts dazzled her and she forgot his deformity. He now realizes that from the moment they met, the scarlet letter would be at the end of their path.

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  • pickandgrin
    replied
    Re: OT: The Scarlet Letter

    Just finished! Is it in bad taste that I think this book is really funny? Hawthorne was constantly making me smirk. To update friends, I listened (Doneeta (sp?) Peters, narrator) and skipped The Customs House (because Tanya said I could).

    One random question from the very beginning: did HP spend her entire pregnancy in prison, give birth there, and then remain there for three months after with her baby?

    Leave a comment:


  • tanya
    replied
    Re: OT: The Scarlet Letter

    Our discussion was really fun. It was a great book for discussion. We spent a lot of time talking about whether the Custom House chapter was necessary or not; and our opinions on what caused the A to appear on Dimmesdale's chest; and whether Hester ever truly repented. Those are a few things we spent time talking about. And of course, Pearl's instincts about what was going on. We finally got kicked out of the room we were in by another group or we might still be there!

    Tanya

    Leave a comment:


  • CatherineS
    replied
    Re: OT: The Scarlet Letter

    Originally posted by Anita View Post
    I am about three chapters from completion (I’m listening, not reading so I can’t be sure). So don’t worry, we won’t move on without you (I won’t? I don’t know if anyone else is even engaged in this read right now). This is one of those I’m glad I have in both audio and print form. I need to go back to a few passages and highlight them. The text is just delectable.
    I'm finished and would love to discuss, although the holiday prep is starting to take over my time... How did the MP book club discussion go?

    Leave a comment:


  • Anita
    replied
    Re: OT: The Scarlet Letter

    Originally posted by pickandgrin View Post
    Just updating that I'm listening and about 1/3 through. Would love to hear your thoughts, after I'm done-of course! I'll try to stay off this thread until I finish.
    I am about three chapters from completion (I’m listening, not reading so I can’t be sure). So don’t worry, we won’t move on without you (I won’t? I don’t know if anyone else is even engaged in this read right now). This is one of those I’m glad I have in both audio and print form. I need to go back to a few passages and highlight them. The text is just delectable.

    Leave a comment:


  • pickandgrin
    replied
    Re: OT: The Scarlet Letter

    Just updating that I'm listening and about 1/3 through. Would love to hear your thoughts, after I'm done-of course! I'll try to stay off this thread until I finish.

    Leave a comment:


  • Anita
    replied
    Re: OT: The Scarlet Letter

    Originally posted by CatherineS View Post
    I'm sure it's intentional. The perfect metaphor: "Dr" Chillingworth has anything but charitable intentions, yet unless someone draws out the truth, Dimmesdale has no hope.

    I also love the understatement of chapter 17's title: The Pastor and his Parishioner.
    From the second the prison door opens and Hester Prynne steps on to the scaffold with Pearl , Hawthorne pulls no punches in the irony department. The subtext is just gobsmacking. It’s riveting stuff.

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  • CatherineS
    replied
    Re: OT: The Scarlet Letter

    Originally posted by Anita View Post
    Was a physician called “a leech” in that era (due to the common practice of leeching and bleeding their patients)? https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leech
    Or did Hawthorne choose that independently? Either way, it was apt.
    I'm sure it's intentional. The perfect metaphor: "Dr" Chillingworth has anything but charitable intentions, yet unless someone draws out the truth, Dimmesdale has no hope.

    I also love the understatement of chapter 17's title: The Pastor and his Parishioner.

    Leave a comment:

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