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  ___________________________the scarlet letter

 

STUDYWORLD STUDYNOTES

The Scarlet Letter


Comprehensive Summary of Chapters 5-8

Summary:

These chapters are mostly descriptive, giving the narrator a chance to analyze Hester and her daughter Pearl. In Chapter 5, Hester is released from prison and chooses to stay in the village. Hester, however, is alienated from everyone: town fathers, respected women, beggars, children, and even strangers.

At the same time that people ostracize her, they also seek her out because of her ability with embroideries and her fine taste. Her handiwork is not allowed to be worn by brides as she is a "fallen woman."

Hester lives a very lonely life. Her only companion is her daughter Pearl, who is described as a "beautiful flower growing out of guilty conditions. Pearl is so named because she was "purchased with all [Hester] had - her mother's only treasure!"

Pearl is a precocious child and very beautiful. She is always dressed impeccably and wears different outfits whenever she goes out. Hester sews all of her clothes and chooses bright colors. She is strong willed and stubborn and refuses to follow the Puritan laws. Hester loves her dearly but she finds it very difficult to control her and this causes many turbulent moments for Hester.

When Pearl is three years old, Hester hears that the townfathers are planning to take Pearl away from her so that she can be raised as a "good" Puritan. She decides to speak to the Governor and plead her case. She takes Peal with her and both are filled with a certain amount of awe as they enter the governor's mansion.

When she meets the Governor, he is with Reverend John Wilson, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth. The governor tries to speak with Pearl in order to determine if she has any religious knowledge. Even though Hester has been teaching Pearl all along, Pearl doesn't let on that she knows anything. The Governor is horrified and feels justified in wanting to take Pearl away from Hester. In despair, Hester turns to her minister, Reverend Dimmesdale, and asks him to plead her case. He does so very eloquently and Hester is allowed to keep Pearl.

 

Review:

Hester continues to be the outcast of the community and the shame of her act is bestowed upon Pearl as well. The child becomes the living scarlet letter. This is underscored when Hester dresses her in a gorgeous "crimson velvet tunic" and when Pearl is called a "Red Rose" by Wilson.

The forest which surrounds the colony becomes symbolic for the purity of nature, unspoiled by mankind. This is the place where Hester finds sanctity..


 

  • Biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • About the Novel

  • Quick/Fast Review
  • Comprehensive Summary and Review of The Custom House

  • Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters 1-4

  • Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters 5-8

  • Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters 9-12

  • Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters 13-16

  • Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters 17-20

  • Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters 21-24

  • Character List

  • Studyworld Essay Search on The Scarlet Letter


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