Notes to Ch 21, The New England Holiday
The Scarlet Letter

wormwood and aloes ...sl21.html#g03
Bitter herbs, so a cup of them would contain the symbolic bitterness that Hester might be realizing she really felt behind that marble mask and seeming submissiveness.
Lord Mayor's show ...sl21.html#g15
The procession here is similar to the traditional inauguration of the Lord Mayor of London, held on November 9. No doubt many of the customs in the Boston event were derived from that of English traditions and amusements. This the author points out gave color to the gray or sable tinge of the Puritans--even though he draws this picture fairly, most readers seem to consider that he reported the Puritans as harsh, severe, and hypocritical. Even though the festivities were not quite as pagan as earlier English ones had been, they were not suppressed very much. In this case, the new governor was another elected official who enjoyed considerable independence from the king, but he was one of the early Puritans, John Endicott.
minstrel, gleeman, juggler ...sl21.html#g16
Hawthorne says that the Puritans were able for this time to suppress some amusements they thought excessive, such as vulgar songs or actors playing the fool, and pedlars of false medicines and so on.
the generation next to the early emigrants ...sl21.html#g17
The next generation was responsible for the witch trials, but they eventually saw the error of their ways. It is true that Sunday closing laws and other remnants of Puritanism remain to control New England society a bit more than in other places. Hawthorne may have been pointing out that the complacent materialists of his day needed a little poking fun at, as well as the stiff Puritans.
a sort of magic circle ...sl21.html#g21
These new readers of the scarlet letter are trying to figure out its significance. One wonders if they thought Hester was part of the show. Boston by then was big enough so she might have been a stranger to many. But one also wonders if this is a sly reference to the author's readers, who always seem to confuse the person and the person's text. At the time, Americans were desperately hoping for an American author to produce some work that could be compared to British books, and show that American materialism was not death to art. So far Hawthorne had not succeeded in this task, but this book proved to be the first one to claim the prize. Hawthorne upon his success had enough money to leave Salem and Boston and move to the country in Lenox, Massachusetts, where there were few autograph hunters and other fans to seek out the shyest author on earth (he received piles of letters all his life on all sorts of matters, and did politely answer them).

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 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. 21 SL Summary" as the Subject: line.


Suggested MLA citations to this web page, HTML code and text.
Use as in ?Help? page citation guide.

Eldred, Eric. <cite>Notes to Ch. 21, The Scarlet Letter.</cite> <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;1999. 23 Sep. 1999. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &lt;<a href=""></a>&gt;

(<a href="">Eldred</a>)

Eldred, Eric. Notes to Ch. 21, The Scarlet Letter. 1999. 23 Sep. 1999.


Please send your own contributions or corrections:
Last updated: Wed Sep 29 00:15:43 EDT 1999
©Copyright 1999 Eric Eldred - see license
From Eldritch Press's Nathaniel Hawthorne Home Page -