+ ENGLISH III AP: Scarlett Letter +


The Scarlet Letter
A Reading Log by Brandon Moeller
English III AP Fisher-7
8/7/96

CHAPTER 1- The Prison-Door-
I found this one page introductory chapter to be very dramatic as it explained the history
of the colony by telling the history of the prison-door. From the looks of this chapter, this story
will probably be dragged out as much as possible.
At first I thought the way Nathaniel Hawthorne approached the latter half of the last
paragraph was annoying, but when I read the chapter the second time, it appealed to me. The
relationship that Hawthorne is attempting to establish with the reader in this paragraph is very
interesting. That pink highlighted section in my book convinced me that even though having
students read a book over a very short summer vacation is a bad, misguided idea, the book
you’re making us read isn’t as bad.

CHAPTER 2- The Market Place-
This chapter tells of Hester Prynne being led through the city and in to the market place
with the finely stitched Scarlet Letter. She walks protecting her young child against her bosom
as she is scorned by the crowd. Her punishment is quote “as effectual an agent, in the
promotion of good citizenship as ever was the guillotine among the terrorists of France,” (Page
52, pink highlight). Instead of using the pillory, which would lock a person’s head and hands
together where they could not move and be forced to not be able to show their humiliation. “No
outrage more flagrant to forbid the culprit to hide his face from shame,” is in Hawthorne’s
commentary on page 53.
Hawthorne’s commentary appears twice on this page (about more than one topic) and
you can see them in my highlighted sections. What really got to me was the second highlighted
section on that page where Hawthorne is comparing/contrasting the nurturing image of a mother
and her son to Prynne. The passage speaks of Prynne’s sin tainting the image, therefore the
crowd was lost for Prynne’s beauty and the infant’s innocence. I think the passage is beautiful in
that it made me think about how society plays a role in interpreting what is good and bad.

CHAPTER 3- The Recognition-
The recognition came when a mysterious wanderer met eyes with Prynne. Through the
vagabond we find out why Hester Prynne has the Scarlet Letter. The passage that I really like in
this chapter is the dialog between the could-be-called “city council members” and Prynne. My
highlighted parts are on page 63 and 64. On page 63, the reverend Mr. Dimmesdale tries to
convince her to give up the name of the man that tempted her by saying that it would be better
for him, and that he wouldn’t have to revel in his guilt for the rest of his life. He later said,
temper raising, “Speak-- to take the Scarlet Letter off...” But Prynne replies that it is too deeply
branded to ever be removed. I think that this dialog shows her “wondrous strength,” and an
attitude worthy of the main character in such a riveting book.

CHAPTER 4- The Interview-
The mysterious wanderer “whose presence in the crowd (In chapter 3) had been of such
deep interest to the wearer of the scarlet letter” was thrown into the same jail cell as Prynne
because he knew Indians that would pay a ransom to get him out. (Above quote from page 66,
underlined sentence.) He turned out to know something about medicine and soothed the infant,
that in the pink highlighted selection on page 66, was in turmoil, anguish and despair. He also
gave something to Prynne which soothed her. Then it became evident to the reader that this
mysterious guy- a so called Mr. Roger Chillingworth- was the husband to Prynne when she
cheated on him in the act of adultery.
Mr. Chillingworth told her that their marriage was really never one of love, and he didn’t
show any hate towards her in the prison interview. They established that they wronged each
other. I think they both have valid points. He wronged her by marrying her when it wasn’t out of
love and she wronged him by cheating on him. Mr. Chillingworth continued and said that he
wanted to know who her lover was but she didn’t tell him so he made a deal. If Prynne would
never reveal that he, Mr. Chillingworth, was ever married to her, he wouldn’t harm her lover.
But if she told her lover who he was, then Mr. Chillingworth will kill her lover.

CHAPTER 5- Hester at