>> Thursday, October 8, 2009
I read The Scarlet Letter for my American Romanticism class. I think I may have read this in high school but I didn't remember much. I loved this book, especially since our teacher filled us in on Puritan culture at those times. I went to a Christian school and I think they omitted a lot from our teachings. We really didn't learn anything about the religious justifications for slavery, witch hunts, or the detestable punishments for "sins."
We also read "Young Goodman Brown" and "Ethan Brand" by Nathaniel Hawthorne and I liked them too. When I have some extra time I plan to read more by Hawthorne. I love the messages that he is one of the writers who seems to believe in relationships. He seems to see family as important. Some of the others writers we are discussing are all about "the self" and that doesn't appeal to me. Hawthorne doesn't seem to think of the self as the only important thing, yet he challenges the religious beliefs. He while Hester wears her sin on her chest she is much more liberated than those who have to hide their scarlet letters.
I am a Christian and as a young person I believed what my parents and teachers taught me. I saw how wrong that could be when I got older and started questioning those beliefs. I have found that I still believe in the Bible but I also believe that there are many ways a person can interpret the verses. I don't believe in old testament law and get very irritated with people who pick and choose "laws" that everyone must follow. So these stories are resonate with me on a deep level.
In case you don't know anything about the the stories they are all about sins. In the Scarlet Letter Hester and a clergyman have sex that results in a child and her husband comes back after he was thought to be dead. Hester is punished by wearing a scarlet A on her chest and Dimsdale (the minister) has to bear his sin in his heart. Chllingworth (the husband) is revenge personified. His whole goal in life is to make Dimsdale pay for his sin.
Goodman Brown is taking a trip into the woods to essentially become a sinner, on his way he sees many people he respects and believes to be wholesome people. In the end he denies everyone in his including his wife and children.
Ethan Brand has gone away to search for the unpardonable sin, he has left everyone and placed his search over the lives of others. He begins to treat humans as subjects of experiments.
Have fun reading.