Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Scarlet Letter (Custom House)

1. What is the primary purpose for the Custom House introduction?

An introduction is something that introduces: as a (1): a part of a book or treatise preliminary to the main portion. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/introduction) An author uses an introduction to present the reader with background information on how or why the story was written. The introduction can help the reader better understand the story by giving valuable information, such as; the time period, customs, religious background, important characters, etc. It also helps the reader get to understand and fully grasp the author's point of view. Without an introduction, the reader would not be able to understand some ideas or concepts behind the story. Nathaniel Hawthorne gives the reader background information in his introduction so that the reader is more familiar with the Custom-House.

The primary purpose for the Custom-House introduction was to give the reader a better understanding of the people living in the Custom-House and their ways of living. In the introduction, the reader is given an overview of Hawthorne's points of views on the Custom-House. He thinks that those who once occupied Salem, were hurting it. He states "by her own merchants and ship-owners, who permit her wharves to crumble to ruin..." (Custom-House 6) The introduction also gave the reader the background information about the "Scarlet Letter" and how the diary of Pue will be the basic outline for the story. He states "Prying further into the manuscipt, I found the record of other doings and sufferings of this singular woman, for most of which the reader is refferd to the story entitled "The Scarlet Letter..." (Custom-House p32) He goes on saying "the main facts of that story are authorized and authenticated by the document of Mr. Surveyor Pue." Hawthorne is basically citing his sources of information.



2. What significant change does Hawthorne admit to making in telling the story contained in the diary?

Hawthorne admits to putting his own twist to the story in the diary. He states "I must not be understood as affirming, that, in the dressing up of the tale, and imagining the motives and modes of passion that influenced the characters who figure in it. I have invariably confined myself withing the limits of the old Surveyor's half a dozen sheets of foolscrap." (Custom-House p32) Hawthorne is basically saying that his story is inspired by actual events that took place, but still influenced by things of his imagination and creation. Therefore, not all things in this book are true. Hawthorne was just adding interest, meaning, and character to the story or events that were told in the diary. One can say, that Hawthorne used the diary as the outline for the story.

Hawthorne took it upon himself to create this story by putting himself in that time period even though he may not have been familiar with it. It may seem simple, but creating a story based on true events and been restricted on not violating the authenticity of them, can be very challenging. Hawthorne took a risk in doing so. He states "On the contrary, I have allowed myself, as to such points, nearly altogether as much license as if the facts had been entirely of my own invention. What I contend for is the authenticity of the outline." (Custom-House p32) He is basically stating that his whole purpose is to keep the outline of the story true. The other factors that will play in the story wont be real or based on real events.

3. What potential impact will this change have on the story?


The fact that Hawthorne made this into his own work, will have a great impact on the story. Since the story was based on a diary, which to many might not have seemed interesting, Hawthorne gave it life, meaning and a purpose. One can thank Hawthorne for doing so. Maybe the diary itself was not interesting or exciting, but the events and people in it were. Hawthorne just brought the story to life with his own work. Overall, he turned the story into an engaging narritive to the reader.

The fact that Hawthorne was able to do so, to one may seem amazing. To create a story based on true events and giving it your own thoughts can be difficult. What could be even more difficult is to be able to keep the authenticity of the actual occurings. Hawthorne was able to do so. He took this great challenge as a writer and was able to complete his goal. Thanks to Hawthorne, the story was brought to life and now recognized wordly for its success.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow u are really good nice detail and everything u should be an english teacher! ♥

Anonymous said...

no not an english teacher she should be a celebrity u are really pretty!

XOXO the love factor

Anonymous said...

Wow the last two questions were the same word for word questions i had to do for my English assignment. Thanks,

Amy Carrillo said...

Thank you all. Glad it was of some help.

Anonymous said...

the questions were the exact same as my english assignment! thanks a lot for your help! :) too bad you don't have anything else about the scarlet letter except the custom-house :( :(

Anonymous said...

This is exactly like my english homework! the exact questins/answers and all.! Thanks tons for posting this . i dont know what i'd do without you

Anonymous said...

ur all ghey