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The punishment of the scarlet letter is a historical fact; and, apart from the symbol thus ready provided to the author's hand, such a book as The Scarlet Letter would doubtless never have existed.But the symbol gave the touch whereby Hawthorne's disconnected thoughts on the subject were united and crystallized in organic form.
” — and at last, to Dimmesdale's crazed imagination, its spectre appears even in the midnight sky as if heaven itself had caught the contagion of his so zealously hidden sin.
So strongly is the scarlet letter rooted in every chapter and almost every sentence of the book that bears its name.
A gloomy and energetic religious sect, pioneers in a virgin land, with the wolf and the Indian at their doors, but with memories of England in their hearts and English traditions and prejudices in their minds; weak in numbers, but strong in spirit; with no cultivation save that of the Bible and the sword; victims, moreover of a dark and bloody superstition, — such a people and scene give admirable relief and color to a tale of human frailty and sorrow.
Amidst such surroundings, then, the figure of a woman stands, with the scarlet letter on her bosom.
For the external or literal significance of the story, though in strict correspondence with the spirit, conceals that spirit from the literal eye.
The reader may choose his depth according to his inches but only a tall man will touch the bottom.
The date is historically fixed at about the middle of the seventeenth century.
The stage properties, so to speak, are well adapted to become the furniture and background of a romantic narrative.
Between Hawthorne's earlier and his later productions there is no solution of literary continuity, but only increased growth and grasp.
Rappaccini's Daughter, Young Goodman Brown, Peter Goldthwaite's Treasure, and The Artist of the Beautiful, on the one side, are the promise which is fulfilled in The Scarlet Letter and the House of The Seven Gables, on the other; though we should hardly have understood the promise had not the fulfillment explained it.