September 20, 2005

Cast of Characters

"The characters of the narrative would not be warmed and rendered malleable by any heat that I could kindle at my intellectual forge. They would take neither the glow of passion nor the tenderness of sentiment, but retained all the rigidity of dead corpses, and stared me in the face with a fixed and ghastly grin of contemptuous defiance."

Neha had something interesting to say about The Custom House.

After reading this introduction, which was boring (sorry), one main thing stuck out at me. This narrator's intent was to give these characters a gloomy persona. All of this time, I had no reason to dislike any of these characters, and now the narrator gave a me a good reason why: they weren't supposed to be good characters in the first place. The irony of it all, is that I had no sympathy for any of the characters throughout the entire novel, and now that this line shows me that was the intent in the first place, I almost want to like them (but I still don't).

The introduction has now left me confused and lost. I thought that Hawthorne was trying to make these people seem to be heroes in a sense, and now I find out that he felt the same way I did when he wrote this. If that's not irony, I don't know what is. I almost wanted to like Dimmesdale and Hester at the end, and now that I have read this, I just found another good reason to dislike them.

The "defiance" of these characters were absolutely evident. These people went against the rule of the Puritan society. That was one of the main reasons why I had no sympathy for them in the first place.

One thing to add, I would like to thank Dr. Jerz for having me read this introduction, because now I have absolutely nothing but closure about my feelings about all of these characters.

Posted by The Gentle Giant at September 20, 2005 03:37 PM

i'm glad you've had closure with all of this. hawthorne tried to make all of his characters appear to be "sinners in the hands of an angry god" and it's true, you're not supposed to like them.

i agree with you on the fact that the introduction was very BOOOORRRIIINNNGGGGG! i took me like 2 hours to read it because it was so dense and i kept getting distracted. oh well. i feel a sense of accomplishment with finishing that novel? don't you?

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Posted by: lauren etling at September 21, 2005 07:55 AM

Agreed Lauren. Agreed.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at September 21, 2005 11:59 AM

Heh, I'm still lost in that introduction!

I think that the characters of the story could still be liked, even if that was not the author's intent.

If you stop and think about it, things haven't changed much since the times of the Puritans. There are still people who cheat on their spouses, and while they do get off the hook much easier nowadays, that doesn't make it any less sinful.

Posted by: Valerie Masciarelli at September 21, 2005 08:43 PM

Yeah, I'm definitely the weird one around here. The sense of accomplishment is true. I feel like there's been a mountain lifted off my shoulders, but I really liked the book. It was good to know that there was a tangible artefact that influenced Hawthorne's decision to write the book.

Posted by: Neha at September 21, 2005 10:36 PM

Good. The mountain has been lifted, until we climb Huck Finn lol.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at September 28, 2005 08:33 PM
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