Scarlet Letter Allusions

Daniel (book of Daniel–Old Testament of Bible) (book of Daniel–Old Testament of Bible) In the bible Daniel is interpreter of dreams (also known for surviving Lions’ Den). In Scarlet Letter, needed to interpret/reveal identity of Hester’s fellow sinner. (CHAPTER 3)
Lethe/Nepenthe Lethe is river of forgetfulness (Greek myth), Nepenthe is drug of forgetfulness (CHAPTER 4)
Paracelsus Swiss Alchemist (1493-1541) Roger says he shared information from this scientist’s time with his native Captors in exchange for their knowledge of healing (herbs, roots, etc.) (CHAPTER 4)
Cain (Book of Genesis–Old Testament) Bible- Cain killed his brother Abel and was marked by God.Scarlet Letter- Hester’s mark is more intolerable than Cain’s. Mark of Cain made wearer immune to bodily harm, could only die from old age. (CHAPTER 5)
Garden of Eden (Genesis–Old Testament)- in reference to Pearl→ she seems perfect, fit for the Garden of Eden Parents referred to as Adam and Eve who carried out the first sin. (CHAPTER 6)
Pearl’s Name (Matthew–New Testament) Bible- Kingdom of heaven is like Pearl of great price–give up everything for it. Scarlet Letter- Pearl is valuable to Hester; she gave up everything for her daughter. (CHAPTER 6)
Luther Martin Luther-leader of Protestant reform in Germany. Catholics said he was offspring of Devil. In chp.6, Puritans say Pearl is child of devil.
Spare the rod is from the Old Testament book of Proverbs, and it is a teaching about why parents should discipline their children by spanking them. The author uses the allusion in reference to Hester’s inability to control Pearl by any means.
Sowing dragon’s teeth Greek myth, Cadmus & Athena: actions that start a quarrel. (CHAPTER 6)
Bunyan’s awful doorway Door of Hell, before reaching heaven you had to pass it. Temptation, Sin, Bad Stuff. (Chapter 10)
Spoil the child (ch. 6)- similar to spare the rod
Chronicles of England (ch. 7)- books in england were expensive, reference to books in England when Pearl and Hester go to governor bellingham’s.
a large pewter tankard…draught of ale (ch 7)- keg of beer and beer at governors house.
Bacon, Coke, Noye, and Finch (ch.7)- the English lawyers
John the Baptist in a charger (ch 8)- Looks like his head is on a silver platter like Bohn’s
her of Babylon (ch 8)- similar to hore of babylon
the Pearl of great price (ch 8)- The “pearl of great price” is a reference to the Biblical Gospel of Matthew: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it”
golden pavements of the New Jerusalem Chillingworth talks to Dimmesdale, refers to him as saintly and would walk on the golden…
David and Bathsheba (ch 9)- David did it with Bathsheba who was wifey to one his generals so David tried to kill David by doing some stupid war strat that would kill him so he and Bathsheba could live happily ever after but… (Biblical allusion, this is the david from david and goliath. King of Israel and whatnot.
Nathan the Prophet (ch 9)- This guy reveals David’s sin publicly in the bible.
Holy Writ (ch 10)- Here Dimmesdale rationalizes why he does not confess, saying that Holy Writ does not require public confession.
gift that descended…at Pentecost, in tongues of flame (ch 11)- a person who speaks with eloquence (pentecost). Struggle to reveal sin (Dimmesdale)
Geneva cloak (ch 12)- it was black or dark, but the ones the Puritans wore were heavy wool, in order to stay warm. The name comes from its use in Geneva by the followers of the Protestant theologian Calvin. The Puritans were Calvinist Protestants rather than Lutheran Protestants.
the cross on a nun’s bosom (ch 13)- Instead of being a scarlet woman Mary Magdalene, she reminds us of the Mary, mother of God, that was foreshadowed by her physical appearance earlier. Again, this would be a Roman Catholic symbol not appropriate for Puritans but perhaps meaningful as a sort of pre-Raphaelite reaction against Victorian materialism for Hawthorne in 1850.
deadly nightshade, dogwood, henbane… (ch 15) – toxic plants for witches
a tongue of Pentecost (ch 17)- Used to stand for eloquence in speech. But here Dimmesdale is also saying that he is a sinner who does not have the right to administer the Holy Sacrament.
a self-enlisted Sister of Charity (ch 20)- Hester is not formally a member of a religious or nursing order of nuns. Sister of Mercy is used here as a generic term. The Puritans did not have separate groups of nuns and monks as the Roman Catholics.
the sea-fire, that flashes (ch 22)- microorganisms in the sea

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