- being a potent necromancer ...sl24.html#g02
- not only a magician, but a practitioner of black magic, as
well as ordinary medicines. The drug atropine could have had
the effect on Dimmesdale as described in the book, but that would
not be black magic.
- sobre or sombre?.... sl24.html#g09
- The first edition text reads "sobre-hued" (dark
colored) but most likely that is a misprint for
"sombre-hued" (dark colored), as Ce0162 has on p275. (We cannot find any
other occurrence of "sobre" in Hawthorne's texts, but
many of "sober" and "sombre".) Compare
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's comment concerning calling a special
legislative session to vote electors for his brother:
"I admire Speaker Feeney and
President McKay's approach to this," Mr. Bush said. "They're
accepting their responsibility in a sober somber way, which they
should." [transcription by New York Times, December 1, 2000]
- that burial ground beside which
King's Chapel ...sl24.html#g12
- By the way, tourists continue to look in vain for this
fictitious headstone among those in the King's Chapel burying
ground and elsewhere. In his
American Note-Books of
1835, Hawthorne referred to coats-of-arms inside King's
Chapel (which was not built until after this story).
One observer strolling Boston graveyards as Hawthorne did found that
no such heraldry was allowed until the last part of the 17th
century--the earliest being this one of Elizabeth Pain, of 1740.
(On the other hand, apparently in the 19th century a number of
fake heraldic emblems were added to the grave monuments of
Revolutionary war heroes and even that of John Winthrop--it is not known
if Hawthorne ever noted the wry contradiction of aristocratic English
emblems on republican American graves.)
Buford Jones raises the question of who planned the gravestone.
(By the way, the story does not say that the stone contained
the words "sable" and "gules," only
that this is what the emblem expressed in heraldic terms.) It
might have been Hester herself? Or perhaps Pearl married a
nobleman in England and so this fake emblem was warranted? Or
is it just an astonishing commentary by the author that a story
that begins with a declining democratic government has to end
with the characters finding no place in the republic, but must
place such an aristocratic symbol on their grave--what does that
say about the place of novel-writing and art in America?
Dimmesdale's dying words seemed to indicate that he did not
have faith the couple would be united after their deaths. But he
could not expect anything at all since at that time he was truly
repentant and utterly depended on God's grace to save him as
a sinner. We cannot know whether they ever were united in Heaven,
but Hawthorne is kind enough to suggest that Hester wanted to be
buried next to Arthur, and perhaps then in the resurrection of
the bodies they would ascend together.
- On a field, sable, the letter, A,
- heraldic language for a red letter A on a black shield.
James Parker's Glossary of Terms Used in Heraldry gives
a fuller description of the term "gules,." indicating
a little more connection to the red rose at the beginning of the
story. Such coats-of-arms were common on tombstones of those who had, or
pretended to have, some aristocratic heritage. A poem by Andrew
Marvell (1621-78), "The Unfortunate Lover," ends with the
line, "In a Field Sable, a Lover Gules."
Also, Larry Buell has pointed out that "gules" is used
by Sir Walter Scott in the introduction to
Waverley, certainly read by Hawthorne, in an
interestingly similar manner.
One point is that the line serves as a frame for the story, since
Hawthorne had referred to a coat-of-arms in the introduction, and
also in chapter 2, above the door of the ancestral home. Of course,
an aristocracy and a democracy do not go together. The concept of
honor to the individual implicit here, along with the
transmutation of a life into art, might symbolize this story of
human frailty and sorrow--as long as one remains true to
Summary.We expect you to write your own
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1999. 23 Sep. 1999. <br />
Eldred, Eric. Notes to Ch. 24, The Scarlet
Letter. 1999. 23 Sep. 1999.
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