Question 11 - New World for the Puritans
What is now called the USA was initially the discovered new world of Columbus. Many people decided to build a new life there and travel hundreds of kilometers from their home in the UK or somewhere else in Europe. Some left in search of religious freedom, some – for seeking a new and better life, other were forced to go there either by someone or by the circumstances of their life. This was a new start for all. A new and better world was to be built. Puritans decided it was their calling to build and purify the existing social standards. Small governments, often influenced by the church, were set up. Very strict rules were implemented. Moreover, there were serious punishments for all dared break them. The men were meant and be the break wieners of the family. The women were meant to keep the household, take care of children and be loving and loyal. Many things that are not even punished by jail now, earned a death sentence back then. Sometimes, puritans were so harsh that some decided to split away and start villages of their own, free of the limiting rules of religion.
The setting is as of a small town. I see it as a town mostly because of the types of houses, but if size is really taken into consideration then it is more of a village. There is a big square in the middle. Around it are the most important building of the community – the church, the city hall and, interestingly, the prison as well. A forest surrounds our small town. There is a river not far away. It is as if they are a bit separate from the whole world. Protected by the forest, their small community lives on in quite isolation. Even though it is a place for travelers to come though, it really still is quite a small and peaceful town.
Twinkle Twinkle little Pearl
Twinkle, twinkle, little Pearl,How I wonder where you’re from.Out of our town oh so far,Like a imp you dance all night.Twinkle, twinkle, little Pearl,How I wonder where you’re from!
When the blazing sun is gone,When he nothing shines upon,Then you show your little light,Dance and sparkle day and night.Twinkle, twinkle, little Pearl,How I wonder where you’re from!
Then the traveler in the darkThanks you for your tiny spark;He could not see where you’re from,But he wanted that for long.Twinkle, twinkle, little Pearl,How I wonder where you’re from!
Under the dark blue sky at night,They think you do spells all night,And you never shut your eye,Till the sun is in the sky,Twinkle, twinkle, little Pearl,How I wonder where you’re from!
“Love, whether newly born or aroused from a deathlike slumber, must always create sunshine, filling the heart so full of radiance, that it overflows upon the outward world.”
A love, whether it be the silly feeling of little kids or the deep understanding of no longer young adults is present in different shapes and sizes. Whichever it is, it is meant to light us up from the inside, make us feel up when we are down and make us shine like we are the happiest person in the world.
This torture. It is unbearable. People look up to me. They trust me with their secrets, with their sins. I help them let go of them, but I cannot help myself. It is eating me up from the inside. Not being punished and living in such a position as I do in society should have been punishment enough. But seeing Hester and even worst Pearl pay for it it’s sheer torture. What they have gone though to cover me What I should have done so long ago Even though health seems to be leaving me Lord knows I don’t deserve it I hope to make things right. We will leave together and start a new life. A fresh life. These thoughts are all that keeps me going these days. Stepping out of the house, going to the main square it all brings so much pain, so much memories. Oh how I wish I could just stay in the peaceful forest with Hester and Pearl
It seems that these days, no, not days, years I have had only one goal in life. To break Arthur Dimmesdale for what he did. To make him suffer and pay the price is what I want most. Yes, this may be revenge and it may be bad to not let it go, but I cannot help it. I must have it. I can feel it taking over me and all of my life but what else am I to do, what else am I to strive for? My little Pearl she will have a good life once I’m gone. I will leave her all I have. After all. There’s no one else I have. Hester? No, she does not deserve any of my savings. But her little Pearl, that wild little imp she needs it.
Hester and Arthur think they will get away. They are hoping for a new life from scratch. Ha! As if I’m going to let that happen. I will follow them wherever they try to flee and will NOT let them escape. I have worked to hard to bring that man down. He does not deserve a second chance. He must suffer and pay for his actions.
Hester Prynne punished for adultery
Yesterday, in main squire of our city, Hester Prynne paid her punishment for adultery of her lost and presumably dead husband. Many believe is should be punished by death. However, a peculiar punishment was chosen after all the factors were considered. It is believed that clergyman Dimmesdale was the kind heart that helped save the young woman. The punishment, standing on a pedestal in the market squire under the burning sunshine with all glaring at her. In the crowd, not only townsfolk were present. Travelers came and asked about the commotion. The other part of the punishment – wearing a scarlet letter A to symbolize adultery is to be worn by Mistress Prynne all the time. This is the topic that was most actively discussed. Some said “as for the red letter, which she hath stitched so curiously, I’ll bestow a rag of mine own rheumatic flannel to make a fitter one!” It’s quite true. The embroidered red letter is of amazing beauty did anything but punish the wearer. On the other hand, some did note that “not a stitch in that embroidered letter but she has felt it in her hear”. Other protests to the punishment included the possibility to cover the letter with anything including her little girl. “Let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart”. However heard the clergymen tried, however beautiful their speeches were, none were able to convince the convicted to confess who was her accomplice. Thus, even after the seeming end of the story, we don’t even know the beginning of it.
Mother and daughter relationship song
(Part 1 – Hester sings to Pearl)
“I wanna leave my footprints on the sands of time
Know there was something that, meant something that I left behind
When I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets” (“I was here”)
“No one told me I was going to find you
Unexpected, what you did to my heart” (“At the Beginning”)
“And you changed me,
And you changed the way,
Changed the way I look at” life. (“You changed me”)
“I don’t need no money,
Fortune or fame
I’ve got all the riches” (“My girl”)
“And when you smileThe whole world stops and stares for awhile‘Cause girl, you’re amazing” (“Just the way you are”)
“It’s not much of a life you’re living
It’s not just something you take, it’s given
Round and around and around and around we go” (“Stay”)
Where are those happy days, they seem so hard to find I tried to reach for you, but you have closed your mind (“S.O.S”)
(Part 2 – Pearl sings to Hester)
“I watched you suffer a dull aching pain” (“Wild Horses”)
“I don’t mind spending every day
Out on your corner in the pouring rain
Look for a girl with the broken smile” (“She will be loved”)
“I don’t know why all the trees change in the fall
But I know you’re not scared of anything at all” (“Best Day”)
Never believe it’s not so” (“Magic”)
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,
Stand a little taller,
Footsteps even lighter” (“Stronger”)
Several things could be learned from the “Scarlet Letter”. For me, the most striking was the portrayal of the strength of a woman and the kindness she had even after being betrayed and punished by the society. The torture that a man goes though because of the need to be someone he is not and to hide the truth in order to keep peace in society impressed me greatly. As did the terrible power of revenge which destroyed a man and left him with nothing when the set goal was reached.
Most people would be mad at a society for punishing them. They would hold a grudge deep down even if they understood their wrong. This is not what Hester did. Not only did she completely accept her punishment. She turned it into something completely different. She did all possible to do good, even when she was spat back in the face. The hand she fed did not appreciate her help but this did not stop her. It did not matter for her either. She was simply trying to do good for the bad she had committed.
Clergymen are meant to be abiding to the law of God. They are meant to be ideals to follow. They are meant to set an example for the simple folk. This is exactly what Arthur tried to do with all his might. Even though the truth was eating him out from the inside, he did what was needed for the society. He was the beacon of light to follow when one fell of the right road. He played the role of the savior for others, even though he could not save himself. Some may consider this cowardice but it is quite brave from a different point of view.
We are told that holding grudges is bad for us. Revenge is the ultimate grudge. However many times I’ve heard about it in Ancient Greek mythology, it was nothing like this revenge. For Roger it became the meaning of life. It was all he wanted to do and all he did. The true lesson was the end of the story, Roger’s end. It was the ultimate finally for a revenge. With nothing else to do in the world, he simply disappeared from it. With so many wonderful things he could have still done as s doctor, he dedicated the end of his life to the wrong side.
Thus, the will to do good, to give what is needed for the people and to drive oneself mad is what we all need to learn from. We must strive to be as good a person as Hester tried to be. Come with help and ask nothing in return. Unfortunately, there are roles we all have to play. There may be scenes that we won’t like, but we have to play them. Be it for our kids, for our friends or someone else, it is the burden of a grownup. Most importantly, we must avoid renege. Do all that you can to forgive or at least to forget and find more beautiful goals and meaning of life.
They say that an apple doesn’t fall far from a tree. However, when comparing Hester and her daughter, Pearl, we can find quite some differences. It is true that both are one blood and both have to live in a very particular way. Nevertheless, Hester hides her beauty under the gloomy rough dress. She quietly obeys the rules and accepts her punishments. Hester is not as obedient. She doesn’t tie up her hair and lets her girl beauty and happiness flow about her. She is more open and is ready to speak her mind to anything she doesn’t agree to. The punishment given to her mother is not quite understood by her and she, in some ways chooses to ignore it.
Through out most of the story, the reader sees Hester in a very simple dress adorned by the beautiful letter A. She covers her hair and hides her beauty. What in the beginning of the story seemed like a elegant and strong body, turns week as her punishment progresses. She does this to herself. She is the one who decides that she does not deserve to be beautiful. This was never part of the punishment. Only in the forest do we see her let down her wonderful hair and see her filled with light and shine. Pearl, on the other side, does not understand it. She gets to be who she wants to be without any self-punishments. She enjoys her beauty which most probably later leads her to the happy married she supposedly has.
Hester knows the rules of society while Pearl is ready to ignore them. This was one of the reasons they wanted to take Pearl away from her mother. She was too outspoken, too wild and could no be controlled. Luckily, with the protection of her father she not only saved herself, but with her existence she saved her mother from taking a wrong step to the dark side of magic.
As a child, Pearl was treated differently. Even if the children didn’t know or understand the story, it was easy to see that Pearl and her mother were apart from everyone else. Adults treated them differently and so did the children. Hester knew the reasons and accepted it. Pearl did not. She lived as she wanted and ran free without the need to submit to any rules.
Even though an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, there are several significant differences between Hester and her daughter. They differ by how they look, by what they say and how they behave. While one is restrained, the other is free.
Book vs Movie
The movie based on the book “Scarlet letter” was quite freely adapted. Half the movie was the story that the author never told. It was meant and it was implied, but N. Hawthorne never dedicated much of his book to the time before the punishment. In the movie though, a big part of it talked about Hester’s life on her arrival, the blossoming of hers and Authors love and the actual “crime” which they committed according to the elderly of the town. Moreover, unlike the book, Pearl is heard as the narrator of the story. There are some things that do not stand out as much in the movie as they did in the book. The character of Pearl is not as well developed. Hester’s gift for embroidery was turned into her love of lace. Most importantly, the letter A as a symbol did not reach the peak that it did in the book.
Hester did not only pay the punishment that was given to her in the book. She became a help to all the suffering and thus the letter “A” was often seen as an abbreviation of the word “angel”. Visitors to town thought it was an honor by its beauty and not a punishment as it was by creation. This important symbolism is nearly lost in the movie.
The ending did not end to be as symbolic. Roger did not die of an illness that killed him from within. Neither did Arthur. The latter actually stayed alive to preserve the “happy ending” of the movie. Nevertheless, much of the power of the book is lost because of it. The death of both men was a powerful event and aroused much feeling I the reader. Needless to say that the movie also played on the viewers’ feeling, but did not leave us in the same shocking state as the book had done.
The playing of the actors is superb though. Arthur seemed as powerful and as right in church as he was in the book. Roger was as crazed on his revenge as his character demanded. Even though Hester was not portrayed for the good she did after he daughter birth, that is by far not the fault of the actress. She played Hester beautifully and if given the chance could have shown her good heart in helping the poor.
The design elements of the movie portrayed that period of the colonies very well. Perhaps Hester’s outfits were not as somber as some readers may have imagined, but it did not play a great role. The city looked just as it should as did all the characters.
In conclusion, I believe that this is a good adaptation of the movie. It was much changed but the main idea of it is preserved. The strength of the woman is visible. The power of one symbol is noticed.
"The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne