Mitul Ahir ENGL 2327Brewer November 14th, 2017 Hawthorneand the “scribbling Women” – Michael Winship”America is now wholly given over to adamned mob of scribbling women, and I should have no chance of success whilethe public taste is occupied with their trash–and should be ashamed of myselfif I did succeed. What is the mystery of these innumerable editions of TheLamplighter, and other books neither better nor worse? Worse they could not be,and better they need not be, when they sell by the hundred thousand.”Michael Winship commences his criticalanalysis with the above passage of Nathaniel Hawthorne, probably his mostwell-known passage. It was written by Hawthorne in a private letter to WilliamD.
Ticknor, who was his publisher and friend. According to Winship, thispassage raised questions around gender politics, the effect of economic factorson authors and publishers, the relationship between success and the quality ofliterature. He finds it surprising that during the period of “AmericanRenaissance” in 1850s, the sentimental novels were more successful than theclassics by Hawthorne, Melville, Thoreau and Whitman.’The Scarlet letter’ is not just any novel,it is a great classic American fiction. From it’s writing to the publication in1850, the sales of this novel have been good.
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Since its publication, this novelhas never been out of print, nor indeed out of favor from literary critics. Thisnovel is a piece of writing which comes on the list of the top ten greatestnovel of all times. It is a best example of craftsmanship of that time, aunique work than the most other typical works. How this piece of art can beunder rated by critics? What is it that’s taking critic’s attention away fromthis book? For better understanding of this novel’s greatness, it requiresinformation of the writer of this novel whose connections with this book,descriptions, imaginary power can only be revealed after reading this greatnovel. The Scarlet Letter opens with an extended, semiautobiographical preface,which serves the book less as an overture than as a bridge linking the past, asportrayed in Hawthorne’s narrative, to the present and to the modern art ofreferential techniques associated with modern and postmodern fiction (Bloom,2011, p. 20).
‘The Scarlet Letter’ is a story about awoman named Hester Prynne who lives in Massachusetts bay colony in the 1640s. Nearthe very begging of the colonial, she had an adulterous affair and had a baby.The colony makes her wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ on her chest for adulteress andtreat her as an outcast. She keeps the baby’s father a secret, but his identitycomes out at the end of the novel.
The first chapter is custom house and ittells the story of how the author was working as the administrator of a customhouse in Salem where he found an embroidered letter ‘A’, and some papers thattells Hester Prynne’s story. When he got fired from his job he found time towrite ‘The Scarlet Letter’. In the first scene of the novel, Hester walks outof the jail with a baby in the arms and The Scarlet letter embroidered on herchest. The baby is three months old. Hester was in the jail for adultery andsince no one knew who the baby’s father was, assumption for that was discoveredand she was sentenced to jail time when her pregnancy started to show. Thefirst thing Hester had to do was stand on a scaffold where they keep a pillorywhich is device for locking people up in public. They didn’t lock her into thepillory, but she had to stand on the platform for long time with everyonestaring at her.
Eventually she saw someone at the edge of the crowd. This manwas her husband. He has sent her ahead of him to Massachusetts while he stayedbehind in the Europe and when he tried to join her he encountered variousmishaps and wound up imprisoned by native Americans. While she was havingaffair and being in jail, he wanders out of the forest on exactly the day thatshe is up in the front of the pillory, he didn’t tell anyone who he was, and heputs his fingers to his lips so that way Hester can’t reveal his identity.Governor asks to Hester about her sin and Dimmesdale to reveal the father ofthis baby, so they can confess and atone for his crimes with her. But sooner inreading it is not hard to figure out that Dimmesdale was a father. But at thattime, Hester refuses to reveal this secret to the Governor. Later she stayedinto the jail and her husband was coming to see her posing as a doctor, and allthe time he was requesting for forgiveness.
From that point he starts to callhimself as Roger Chillingworth. When Hester was living with her baby sheskilled at sewing through and she makes fancy lace garments for officials towear in ceremonies through whole time. When colony’s people try to take Pearl awayfrom Hester, when she was 3 and half year old. Hester went to Governor and hedid ask to Pearl some religious question. At that time, she was not able tobring answers to those questions, so governor thinks that Hester is bad mom,but Hester appeals to Dimmesdale to speak for her.
He says that God gave Pearlto Hester to save her soul and he points out that pearl looks like the scarlet letter,so Hester is clearly using Pearl to remember her sin and repent. Chillingworthwas the first person who find out the secret that Dimmesdale was the father ofpearl and this secret was killing him from the inside. One day, Chillingworthgo beyond and ask him that he has must religious problem which was killing him.Dimmesdale replied by saying that it is not his business, and Dimmesdale goesto sleep. When Chillingworth opens his shirt and sees something on his chest,that tells him everything. Dimmesdale wanted to confess to his congregation andhe tells colony’s people that he is a sinner, but they like him more. When hewas alone, he whips himself and starves himself and he sees vision of hisparents, Pearl and Hester.
At last, theyheld sermon which was Hugh hit, it was biggest sermon ever in New England. Atthere, Dimmesdale comes out and takes Hester and Pearl leads them upon thepillory platform with him, Chillingworth tries to stop him but cannot stop him.Dimmesdale says he should have stood with them seven years before. Then heopens his shirt and reveals a scarlet letter on his chest at that time no one knowsthat how it got there it could be sign from God or he might have scarredhimself.
Dimmesdale asks Pearl she shall kiss him now and she does, Hester askif they will be together in Heaven and he denies saying that they need torepent for their sin and he dies. Afterward Chillingworth dies and leaves ahuge inheritance to Pearl Hester, she leaves the colony for a while and she marriessomeone rich in Europe but Hester Eventually comes back to live in her cottageand wear her scarlet letter again.The author draws on the decades afterHawthorne’s death in 1864 and focuses on his widow, Sophia Hawthorne.
Raisingthree children by herself, her financial situation was unsatisfactory. Shethreatened Fields to transfer future rights in her husband’s works to anotherfirm. Winship implies a comparison between Sophia and Hester Prynne, the womenwho stood for themselves when they felt that the person they loved were beingused. Sophia’s instance is an excellent illustration of women claiming theirrights regarding their families, not submitting to the misconduct and scandal.
Sophia and Hester both were deemed not as valiant as men in their time, yet bothdemonstrated gallantry for their causes, something remarkable at the time. Theydefied to renounce the significance of their loved ones and their reputations.Winship argues that Nathaniel Hawthorne wasclearly bothered by the successes of the female competitors. He believed thatHawthorne was frustrated because of the numbers: in comparison to 11,800 copiesof his work ‘The Scarlet Letter’ produced by 1860, about 310,000 copies ofHarriett Beecher Stowe’s ‘Uncle Tom’s Cat’ and about 90,000 copies of MariaSusannah Cummins’s ‘The Lamplighter’ were sold.
Throughout his analysis, hecompares the publication histories of ‘The Scarlet Letter’ and ‘Uncle Tom’sCabin’ for the remainder of the nineteenth century. He concludes his writingwith a strong implication that the publication and marketing played a key rolein the success and popularity of both the novels. While ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ wascriticized in a strongly negative manner, ‘The Scarlet Letter’ emerged as oneof the two great classics of American Fiction, along with Melville’s’Moby-Dick’.
Uçum, U?ur. “A Reconsideration ofNathaniel Hawthorne’s the Scarlet Letter.” Journal of History,Culture & Art Research / Tarih Kültür Ve Sanat Arastirmalari Dergisi,vol. 4, no. 3, Sept. 2015, pp.
118-126. EBSCOhost,Bloom, H. (2011). Bloom’s Guides: TheScarlet Letter, New York: Bloom’s Literary Criticism An imprint of InfoBasePublishing.