- deadly nightshade, dogwood,
- All these are plants that produce toxins to ward off
browsing animals. They have been used as poisons and in
witchs' brews. It is doubtful that Chillingworth would have
used them to poison Dimmesdale--atropine would be a better
choice, and one that would produce the symptoms noted. But
they are mentioned here to remind us of witchcraft and to
suggest that Chillingworth was a witch and might have
poisoned others with them.
- Be it a sin or no, I hate
the man! ...sl15.html#g02
- If we did or not before, now we readers do hate
Chillingworth, since we have identified with Hester. It would be
sin for a Christian to hate another person, even if they have
done wrong to you. Of course, they are still married, and she
is commanded to love her husband, and so her sin is compounded.
But we cannot help but feel that Hester is motivated to this
emotional hate by more than just a disinterested Christian love
for Arthur. There must be something deeper, and the surface
thought that she wants to protect a fellow sinner must be hiding
a deeper love that Hester fails yet to recognize. If, in a few
chapters, Dimmesdale goes through an identity crisis, we see
here Hester also falling back from an intimacy crisis to an
identity crisis, in the psychologist Erik Eriksen's
typology. We see Hester starting to come out of her shell.
- a live horse-shoe by the
- A live horse-shoe means a horseshoe crab, not a crab but
an arthropod of ancient origin that often is found on beaches.
Picking it up by the tail seems a good way to handle it, but
the tail sometimes falls off. Then the crab finds it difficult
to tip its plate-shaped body over in case it is upset, and dies
if it is not already dead. A five-fingers would be what is today
usually called a starfish, not a fish but an echinoderm with
usually five arms it uses to move around and to grasp its food,
mollusks. Jellyfish are also common on beaches, but look rather
sad when dried up on a beach. Although all this might be innocent
child's play, it seems here that all these actions are
naughty. Hawthorne grew up near the beach in Salem and recorded
in his journals all these observations. He did not record if
anyone scolded him for naughtiness in handling seashore animals,
or whether this was his own idea later.
Pearl's inquisitiveness about the letter here seems
appropriate. One wonders if Hawthorne himself had similar
propensities when he grew up, wondering what happened to his
father; probably nobody else wanted to talk about it.
- I shall shut thee into the dark
- It sounds as if the mother is at the end of her ropes
handling this active child, and surprises herself by threatening
to frighten her by this confinement. We get the further idea
that the black closet might be appropriate for this devilish
elf-child. But no doubt Hester feels some shame in not being
able to answer the question truthfully, and bring her child
up properly. Much of the reluctance and shame must come
from not being able to explain sex to this seven-year-old
Summary. From here until the end of the book
we expect you to write your own summaries, following the models
of preceding chapters. E-mail to EricEldred@usa.net
your summary (after reading the chapter carefully). You will
get in return e-mail similar summaries made by others, which you
may then compare with your own to see if you have understood
the chapter. Use "Ch. 15 SL Summary" as the Subject:
Suggested MLA citations to this web page,
HTML code and text.
Use as in ?Help? page citation guide.
Eldred, Eric. <cite>Notes to Ch. 15, The Scarlet
Letter.</cite> <br />
1999. 23 Sep. 1999. <br />
Eldred, Eric. Notes to Ch. 15, The Scarlet
Letter. 1999. 23 Sep. 1999.
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