Kızıl Damga - The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

03/19/2010 17:42:41

Kızıl Damga - The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter opens with a longpreambleabout how the book came to be written. Thenamelessnarratorwas thesurveyorof thecustomhousein Salem, Massachusetts. In the customhouse'sattic, he discovered a number of documents, among them amanuscriptthat wasbundledwith ascarlet, gold-embroideredpatchof cloth in the shape of an "A.' The manuscript, the work of a past surveyor, detailed events that occurred some two hundred years before the narrator's time. When the narrator lost his customs post, he decided to write a fictional account of the events recorded in the manuscript. The Scarlet Letter is the final product.

The story begins in seventeenth-century Boston, then aPuritansettlement. A young woman, Hester Prynne, is led from the town prison with herinfantdaughter, Pearl, in her arms and the scarlet letter "A' on herbreast. A man in the crowd tells an elderlyonlookerthat Hester is being punished foradultery. Hester's husband, ascholarmuch older than she is, sent her ahead to America, but he never arrived in Boston. Theconsensusis that he has been lost at sea. While waiting for her husband, Hester hasapparentlyhad anaffair, as she has given birth to a child. She will notrevealher lover'sidentity, however, and the scarlet letter, along with her public shaming, is her punishment for hersinand hersecrecy. On this day Hester is led to the townscaffoldandharanguedby the town fathers, but she again refuses to identify her child's father.

The elderly onlooker is Hester's missing husband, who is now practicing medicine and calling himself Roger Chillingworth. He settles in Boston,intentonrevenge. He reveals his true identity to no one but Hester, whom he has sworn to secrecy. Several years pass. Hester supports herself by working as aseamstress, and Pearl grows into awillful,impishchild.Shunnedby the community, they live in a smallcottageon theoutskirtsof Boston. Community officials attempt to take Pearl away from Hester, but, with the help of Arthur Dimmesdale, a young andeloquentminister, the mother and daughter manage to stay together. Dimmesdale, however, appears to be wasting away and suffers from mysterious heart trouble, seemingly caused by psychological distress. Chillingworth attaches himself to theailingminister andeventuallymoves in with him so that he can provide his patient with round-the-clock care. Chillingworth also suspects that there may be a connection between the minister'stormentsand Hester's secret, and he begins to test Dimmesdale to see what he can learn. One afternoon, while the minister sleeps, Chillingworth discovers a mark on the man's breast (the details of which are kept from the reader), which convinces him that his suspicions are correct.

Dimmesdale's psychologicalanguishdeepens, and he invents newtorturesfor himself. In the meantime, Hester'scharitabledeedsand quiethumilityhave earned her areprievefrom thescornof the community. One night, when Pearl is about seven years old, she and her mother are returning home from a visit to adeathbedwhen theyencounterDimmesdaleatopthe town scaffold, trying to punish himself for his sins. Hester and Pearl join him, and the three link hands. Dimmesdale refuses Pearl'srequestthat heacknowledgeher publicly the next day, and a meteor marks a dull red "A' in the night sky. Hester can see that the minister's condition is worsening, and sheresolvestointervene. She goes to Chillingworth and asks him to stop adding to Dimmesdale's self-torment. Chillingworth refuses.

Hester arranges anencounterwith Dimmesdale in the forest because she is aware that Chillingworth has probably guessed that she plans to reveal his identity to Dimmesdale. Theformerlovers decide tofleeto Europe, where they can live with Pearl as a family. They will take a ship sailing from Boston in four days. Both feel a sense of release, and Hester removes her scarlet letter and lets down her hair. Pearl, playing nearby, does not recognize her mother without the letter. The day before the ship is to sail, the townspeople gather for a holiday and Dimmesdale preaches his most eloquentsermonever. Meanwhile, Hester has learned that Chillingworth knows of their plan and hasbookedpassage on the same ship. Dimmesdale, leaving the church after his sermon, sees Hester and Pearl standing before the town scaffold. Heimpulsivelymountsthe scaffold with his lover and his daughter, andconfessespublicly,exposinga scarlet lettersearedinto the flesh of his chest. He falls dead, as Pearl kisses him.

Frustratedin his revenge, Chillingworth dies a year later. Hester and Pearl leave Boston, and no one knows what has happened to them. Many years later, Hester returns alone, still wearing the scarlet letter, to live in her old cottage andresumeher charitable work. She receivesoccasionalletters from Pearl, who has married a European aristocrat and established a family of her own. When Hester dies, she is buried next to Dimmesdale. The two share a singletombstone, which bears a scarlet "A.'

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