AP Lit Note Cards The Scarlet Letter Flashcard Example #14240

1. Title/author
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hawthorn was raised alone by his mother after his father died in Salem, Massachusetts. He was enrolled in college at Bowdoin and married Sophia Peabody in 1842. He was not able to support his wife and three children on his writing so he worked as a surveyor at a Custom House for about three years. His writing career finally took off when he published The Scarlet Letter and he died in 1864 as a wealthy man.
2. Date of publication/Literary time period
It was published in 1850 during the Transendentalism time period.
3. Setting
It takes place in Boston, Massachusetts in the 1640’s. The Puritans are in control in Boston during this time, which is why Hester Prynne is punished so severely.
4. Characters
Hester Prynne: protagonist, outcast, strong, kind-hearted
Roger Chillingworth: Antagonist, cold, twisted
Arthur Dimmesdale: Pearl’s father, weak, selfish, guilty
Pearl: Hester’s daughter, rebellious, spirited, unique
5. Plot Summary
The novel itself begins with Hester Prynne being led out of prison holding baby Pearl, to the scaffold to be shamed for her sin of adultery. She refuses to speak the name of her Pearl’s father. Her husband whom she thought was lost at seas turns up in town pretending to be Doctor Roger Chillingworth and tells Hester he won’t make her reveal the baby’s father if she lets his identity be kept a secret. She agrees. She gets out of prison and lives with Pearl, making a living as a seamstress. Meanwhile, Chillingworth moves in with his patient, Rev. Dimmesdale and after realizing he is Hester’s lover, torments him until he’s so guilty, he climbs the scaffold and confesses his sin, before dying in Hester Prynne’s arms. Chillingworth dies and leaves his money to Pearl. Hester leaves but returns later and eventually dies in Boston, still wearing her scarlet letter. She is buried next to Dimmesdale.
6. Theme(s)-
Nature is shown as a theme in how much more forgiving it is to sinners than humans are. Individualism is a theme in how Hester is an outcast in the town and goes her own way, untouched by the townspeople. Sin is a huge theme, as Hester Prynne causes the reader to question what is considered true sin and what it means to be a sinner.
7. Significant quotes(s)/passages that relate to theme(s)
Nature: “On one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rose-bush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom..”
Individualism: “On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold-thread, appeared the letter A. It was so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it … was of a splendor in accordance with the taste of the age, but greatly beyond what was allowed..”
Sin: “But there was a more real life for Hester Prynne here, in New England, than in that unknown region where Pearl had found a home. Here had been her sin; here, her sorrow; and here was yet to be her penitence.”
Three literary devices and examples
Style/diction: Hawthorne wrote in allegories and had a classical writing style. He used many forms of vocabulary and types of words. For example:
Symbols: The novel is made up almost entirely from symbolism. One example is how Pearl is the living embodiment of the scarlet letter, aka her mother’s sin.
Types of Irony: Situational irony is seen in how Dimmesdale tells the townspeople he is not all good and has done bad things, and they praise him even more, thinking he is only being humble.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *