Scarlet Letter – Custom House

What is a custom house? -3 years experience of author, spent time here, work and amusemet, dirrent time period -office at a port (or frontier where ships come in – dockside) where ship come in and taxes are paid based on the cargo/ foreign imports’ entrances into the town -tax office for goods
How is the custom house a autobiographical passage for Hawthorne? -first person -He states that he is writing an autobiography and defines what he thinks it is -give his family history and roots in Salem -Explains his reasoning for his decisions -He creates a good image of his friends -He offers his biased opinion openly -he describes his current interests, such as literature and nature – describes the lessons he has learned when being a surveyor of the Revenue -describe his emotions and reactions to the Scarlet Letter -goes into detail on important people and events in his time at the general house -he is reflective on his life -born in Slem -writing is a pastime-distinguishing himself from conformity (transcendentalist)
Who is he author of the Scarlet Letter? Nathaniel Hawthorne?
Where was Hawthorne born? Salem MA
Describe the American Eagle vividly and how is it a a symbol to the community? -threatens community = sign of mischief and fear, a mental fear-powerful -domineering -threatening -fierce-savage-symbolizes individuality and equality, as well as their freedom from Britain”intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw” -symbolizes that their is power in her that the colonists have -eagle = colonists; victim = Hester—–they expect conformity for those who don’t abide by the rules will be humiliated —–foreshadows the scarlet letter A that Hester will wear ———-the crowd are ready to fling things at her – insults + embarrassment -the eagle in today’s day represents strength and goodness, but then it represented fear and wrath -even though it is a symbol of greatness , it is also a symbol of fear =— if it not a comforting or welcome bird = it is to be feared
How does Hawthorne aka Narrator imagines ancestors would view his being a writer? -it’s frivolous (carefree, lacking any serious purpose) -they think that poetry and writing is a waste of time -he is a noncomformist and does not care about what they think -they would be condescending -he believes Puritan ancestors would find it frivolous that he is a generate (immoral/stupid) -he waste to much time in the common house —he does not seek things to keep working on in his job——puritans believed in just work, work, work -he uses his extra time to write -went against puritan ideas-this book would have def been frowned on coz it was about adultery
Based on the narrator’s description of the custom house colleagues, what must it have been like to work there? -strong generations, independent of sea man -demonstrating though, at the workplace different, weak strengthens than what they did before -compares and contrasts them to their lives and work at sea to the mundane work they do now – narrator says that he is writing because he too has extra time on his hands-people are bored at this job -some patriarchal members / veterans of sea who takee leadership roles -odd sort of retirement job -boring stifling -the narrator takes pleasure knowing that he may unstifle some of the more rigid men with stifled personalities -old and boring men -not many ships come through any more -they have nothing to do but sleep -life time appointments secured by their family connection -reveals all of the down time he has -appearance of the house = run down, which parallels to the appearance of the people being old and worn down -narrator negatively describes his colleagues which shows his views on conformity -the people he worked with used to be sea captains = is a retirement job for them; they used to be involved now they are lacking action –
Who does the narrator find the scarlet letter? To whom did it belong? Who does the narrator find the scarlet letter?- rainy day outside, he is looking around in the custom house in a old “crumbly” room -lots of storage / old items -find cloth rolled up, find scarlet and gold -hold it to his chest and it burns (symbolizes the guilt that Hester has all her life and the power that the letter still has after all of these year) -inside it is a small paper with a document (official) about its history -finds it underneath files and piles of manuscript that he knows people were not meant to see (envelope that has the scarlet letter was filed under the name of Jonathan Hue) To whom did it belong? -Hester Prynne
What purpose did the intro “the custom house” serve? -provides framework for narrative-introduces narrator to the reader-shows the conflict between the artistic impulse of the individual and the commercial environment of society-non-conformist narrator -he sees that it is frivolous to write, but he does;t care-he says that the townspeople will do just as well without him – indicates that his focus was on writing while there and that readers should focus on the story and not the puritan value so much -there is a connected to transcendentalist ‘self reliance’ 2nd paragraph about not wanting to conform -he couldn’t write it fast enough as it was so entertaining and enjoyable -serves to introduce us to the narrator and his desire for his work to become a part of American Culture and to separate himself from puritan ancestors who were so quick to judge -set 100 years after Hester Prynne’s story -we found out that the narrator was the man who actually found the scarley letter and the wrote the story
What would the narrator’s ancestors have said if they knew how what he did in his spare time? they would have called him frivolous and thought he was wasting time -he might as well have been a musician
Who said the document that the Scarlet Letter was in? Jonathan Pue

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