10 Facts You Didn't Learn About The Scarlet Letter In High School
by N/A, 9 years ago | 2 min read
You may have read The Scarlet Letter a ton of times in school, but you probably still don't know these facts.
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1. Puritans really did label adulterers.
A law in Plymouth in the 1600s stated that adulterers had to be publicly whipped and then wear fabric cutouts of the letters "A" and "D" on their outermost layer of clothing.
2. The book is rife with symbolism.
Names like Pearl and Roger Chillingworth said a lot about the characters in the book. The rose bush and letter "A" were also prominent symbols in the book.
3. James T. Fields, Hawthorne's editor took credit for the book's publication.
Fields was editor of The Atlantic Monthly and claims to have convinced Hawthorne to have the book published. Other say Edwin Percy Whipple encouraged the books publication.
4. Nathaniel Hawthorne changed his name because he was embarrassed about his puritan relatives.
His last name is actually Hathorne. His great-great-grandfather worked to get rid of Quakers in Salem and his son accused more than 100 women of being witches. He changed his name because he didn't want to be associated with the shame of his family legacy.
5. Hawthorne didn't make any money off the book.
Hawthorne only made $1500 off of the book during the last 14 years of his life.
6. Nathaniel Hawthorne is a big fan of the word ignominy.
He used 16 variations of the word throughout the book. It means dishonor or shame.
7. A lot of people found the book to be scandalous.
Some called The Scarlet Letter smut and claimed that it degraded literature.
8. Hawthorne started writing The Scarlet Letter after he'd gotten fired.
He started working at the Salem Custom House in 1846 as a surveyor, but was let go after changes in political parties.
9. Hester and Dimmesdale's relationship may have been modeled after a real-life public scandal.
Hawthorne's sister-in-law published work about a Hungarian linguist. It was rumoured that he seduced his students. He attempted to leave his wife and seek sole guardianship of his daughter. When confronted by his wife, he had her committed.
10. The Scarlet Letter was one of the first books with a strong female character.
Despite being ostracized is society, Hester Prynne handled her situation with grace. Hawthorne wrote the book after the first women's rights convention in New York.
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