"It's Never Just Rain." It's Other Stuff, Too

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In chapter ten of How to Read Literature Like a Professor, there's a short bold line that says
"It's never just rain."
Nice.
We've seen a lot of examples of this in this class already, especially in The Scarlet Letter.
For example, in Chapter 17, Hester catches up with Arthur Dimmesdale. On page 81 there's a line that reads:

"When they found voice to speak, it was, at first, only to utter remarks and inquiries such as any two acquaintances might have made, about the gloomy sky, the threatening storm..."

This sentence isn't just "How's the weather?" It's an ice-breaker, a warming up, a simple way for two humans to become comfortable with each others presence.
Before we finish up with this sentence, let's throw some style points to Hawthorne for the round-about way of telling the reader that it's a gloomy sky up there.
Also, a gloomy sky reflects and influences characters' moods. It's the same thing we experience when we go outside during a storm or an overcast day. Arthritis kicks in, depression moves around, people feel vulnerable and exposed.
The dark sky in this scene is the burden on Hester and Dimmesdale's shoulders.

In the next chapter, Hester removes the scarlet letter.
"All at once, as with a sudden smile of heaven, forth burst the sunshine, pouring a very flood into the obscure forest..."
That sentence goes on for a little while, but everything gets illuminated. Is it really just coincidence that everything brightens when Hester removes the letter?
No.
Hester is removing what the letter symbolizes: adultery, temptation, seven years of rejection. To remove that is like she's forgiving herself, that all the sorrows and hate cast upon her has been removed. The sky reflects Hester's mood and Hester's mood reflects the sky.

1 Comment

Not only was the weather in both scenes able to reflect the moods of the characters but also worked to almost drown the readers in the emotions that are being portrayed. Weather being such and integral part of the setting of a piece it causes me to wonder-what if when Hester removed the scarlet letter the light did not come rushing down upon her?

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This page contains a single entry by PatrickSchober published on September 14, 2010 1:27 PM.

"The Scarlet Letter" and the Power of Names was the previous entry in this blog.

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