Benjamin Goodman February 18, 2008 Period 2 IB English Zacher THE CUSTOM HOUSE 1.

Hawthorne has a negative view of the world of his ancestors the Puritans. His successor was clearly not suited for the job, or at least not as well as he is. This perhaps is a reference to corruption or poor-management, maybe on the whole of Puritan society. 2. The author has lived in Salem for most or all of this life. The community seems moral because the Puritans have such a deep-rooted concept of sin and righteousness. He knows his family is thouroughly connected to this tradition but he is not proud of this. They would have expected much better of him in his pursuits. They would consider his literary career as “degenerate”. The irony is that this career ended up granting Nathaniel Hawthorne much more fame than any of his Massachusetts answers. 3. According to Hawthorne, a typical Puritan is “strict” and “black-browed”, a serious and pious people. Hawthorne characterizes them as not bad people, but also a people who have not performed “any memorable deed”. 4. Hawthorne is surprisingly not apologetic for becoming the Surveyor of Revenue. The job has somehow taken his love out of literature. It has made him think of other things. No longer does he think about subjects like nature too. He relfects that while the fame is nice, it is strange to realize that fame is not everything. Outside the narrow scope that is ones own success they don't particularly matter in the scheme of things. 5. Hawthorne elaborately sets up the scene of finding the manuscript and the background to it. Some have said that he is simply creating a stand-in for his own ideas in the narrator character. But in reality, Hawthorne is doing more than that. He is adding more levels to the story, introducing us to this Massachusetts society, slightly distancing himself from the actual story, and creating parallels between the character of the narrator and that of Hester Prynne. For instance, both feel significantly alienated in their Puritan societies 6. Hawthorne's imagination is a “tarnished mirror”. He can no longer accurately reflect upon his thoughts. The lull and soulessness of civic duty has hurt his chances to let his mind wander and his literary creativity flow. 7. The perfect atmosphere would be where the moonlight is relecting upon everything. In this way, everything is illuminated and clearly seen but all is seen in a brand new way. Under the moonlight, things appear different than they do at any other time. Hawthorne emphasizes romantic ideas in The Scarlet Letter. He writes about emotion and darkness. He writes about mankind as is man is essentially good and he accepts mystical ideas. His story stresses the struggle of the individual and his hero characters are tremendously atypical for this society. CHAPTERS 1-4


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