All posts by taydornin

Foster 6, 7

Foster’s chapter 6 talks about how the Bible has an influence on literature. It’s not so much the religious aspect but rather the common themes that are in the Bible that authors use throughout their work. Foster uses the examples of betrayal, denial, plagues, floods, and serpents that poets have drawn from the Bible to use in their work. Most of the literary examples he used in the chapter I had not read so making a connection to the Scarlet Letter helped me out the most. There are several different biblical themes that are used in the novel.

Adultery:       Hester commits adultery to have Pearl, for this sin she is forced to wear the scarlet letter on her chest. It is strongly stressed that her actions are wrong and an act of sin.

Betrayal:        First we see Chillingsworth experience betrayal by Hester when she has a child with Dimmesdale. I believe we also see it by the Puritan community. Yes, Hester has sinned by committing adultery however they completely alienate her from society for her wrongdoing. Based on biblical teachings her community should have never abandoned her.

Denial:           Dimmesdale is in denial with his part with Hester. Although he comes to terms with it near the end of the book with Hester and Pearl, he still struggles through the majority of the book of admitting it to himself and to the community

via Foster (6, 7.

Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter (17-20)

“She had wandered, without rule or guidance, in a moral wilderness . . . The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, -stern and wild ones, -and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.”


Chapter 18 discusses the recurring theme, sin and intelligence, and in this quote I gather that it shows the readers how her sin was her biggest teacher. By being forced to acknowledge her sin and wear the scarlet letter she was alienated by society, forced into the role of philosopher. The scarlet letter was meant to make an example for the community and to be her punishment but in reality it just led her into a moral wilderness where she was forced to learn from shame, despair, and solitude. It separated her mentally and morally from the community and she grew as an individual outside of the Puritan’s boundaries. This growth is what allowed her to make the decision to flee to Europe and why she was excited about it. Letting go of the scarlet letter means letting go of her past and by going to Europe she is able to do both. But the decision to leave would not have been made if her community had not alienated her to begin with. Her sin became her greatest teacher and instilled her with intelligence that other individuals in Puritan society do not possess.

The only part of this quote that I can’t quite figure out is when it says “…but taught her much amiss.” The way she learned lessons was not an easy way but it seems the author wants us to believe it was good for her that she did. This part of the quote makes me question what she was taught wrong and whether those “wrong” teachings were a good or bad thing?

via Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter (17-20).

Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter (14-16)

Chapter 16 portrays the illustrative role that Pearl plays throughout the novel. It also shows the significance of the scarlet letter as a symbol and the connection between sin humanness. Pearl has a way of seeing things that others do not. She identifies the scarlet letter on her mom with the metaphorical lack of sunshine her life. “Mother” said little Pearl, “the sunshine does not love you. It runs away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something on your bosom. . . . It will not flee from me; for I wear nothing on my bosom yet!” Can I infer that Pearl realizes that sin is an inevitable part of every adult human beings life? She is still a child and does not understand the ramifications of sin yet, but perhaps she realizes that everyone encounters sin at some point in their adult life?

via Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter (14-16).

Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter (10-13)

In chapter 10 Chillingworth and Dimmesdale discuss the meaning of concealing ones sin through plant symbolism. This conversation has Dimmesdale in a corner where he makes sure not to disclose anything to make it seem like he has anything to hide but he becomes nervous and agitated with the topic. The reader knows that Chillingworth is suspicious and what it’s about and we know that it is in fact true. Therefor, when Chillingworth looks under his friends shirt at his chest while he is sleeping and rejoices by what he sees it leads me to believe as a reader that what he has just seen confirms his suspicions. The chapter end by leaving the readers in the dark about what the doctor saw, but I feel it is safe to infer it is something that leads the doctor to believe his suspicions were correct.

via Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter (10-13).

Scarlet Letter Podcast (2/4)


In the Scarlet Letter Lecture podcast 24, Dr. Jerz talks about the black and white worldview that Hester is fighting against in the novel. In the novel Puritan society is displayed and having very distinct lines between what is right and wrong, and the way Hester “purchased” her daughter Pearl is a bold example of something wrong. Hester lives in the grey areas, she gave up her mother’s greatest treasure in order to have her own greatest treasure, Pearl. However, Pearl’s very existence is completely at odds with the strict rules of Puritan society. They cannot understand why she would break such rules to have her daughter; these so-called grey areas. In this society of black and white, a clear cut definition between right and wrong, Hester struggles to make society not just see, but to also feel, the reasons why she did what she did but because of this she worries about her daughter since she is subject to the same torment as Hester.

via Scarlet Letter Podcast (2/4).

Making America (Intro to American Literature)

By studying American Literature I believe the concepts and knowledge I gain from it can be applied to the Seton Hill learning objective of demonstrating ethical decision-making that is grounded in philosophical inquiry. Studying American Literature requires me to look into history and understand philosophical views of the time that influenced authors and their literary works. By understanding the philosophical views throughout history it will help me better understand the ones of today and how things have changed whether it pertains to societal aspects or religious ones, etc. For example, in Dr. Jerz’s video he compares the two different types of American dreams (the lone nomad who is true to himself and the white picket fence and being a good, productive member of society), by understanding the philosophies about the two American dreams of that time I can understand how the modern idea of the ‘American dream’ has changed and been shaped and I can make my own decisions pertaining to pursuing my own American dream in an ethical manner. Understanding how to look into historical and modern day philosophies will help me make appropriate ethical decisions that I can apply to this American Literature class and to my other classes at Seton Hill along with my daily activities.

via Making America (Intro to American Literature).

Foster Intro and Chapter 1

I read the Introduction and Chapter 1 out loud between another student and I, while doing this I found that certain parts of the book stood out to me more than others immediately. One of the those things was the “language of reading”  as a student compared to reading as a professor. In the introduction it says how readers respond on an emotional level before anything else and, in comparison, how professors look directly at the questions “where did that effect come from?” “Whom does the character resemble?” “Where have I seen this situation before?” As a reader I do find myself connecting with the literature we read on an emotional level first. For example, when we were doing a close reading on The Star Spangled Banner my first reaction to the poem was anger and pride. I focused on how I felt rather on what made me feel that way. That’s one of the large connections I have made throughout the first week of class and by reading the introduction and first  chapter of Foster’s book. I realized there are questions that I need to ask myself first to be able to truly analyze literature and do a proper close reading. Instead of focusing how angry I was while reading the Star Spangled Banner I should’ve been focused on how words such as “foul footsteps’ pollution” made me resent the enemy and feel pride in my homeland. Prior to this class and this book I never realized how truly off I was from the “language of reading” and how I’ve always been focusing on the right things but in the wrong way. Once I learn to ask those questions that professors do I’ll be able to see literary text through those same glasses as the professor.

via Foster, Intro.

Dickinson, “I Never hear the word ‘escape’”

In Dickinson, “I Never hear the word ‘escape’” I noticed this passage:

As I worked my way through this poem I broke down several lines introducing new elements and asking myself questions. As I tied everyone question and line in together I gathered the notion that perhaps Dickinson is talking about the soul being bound and trapped by the physical body. I came to this idea by comparing both “I Never hear the word ‘escape'” and Dickinson’s other poem “There is no frigate like a book.” Our souls are soldiers fighting to break down the prison that is our physical body. Our should get excited by the idea of traveling beyond our physical restraints but even after each attempt our should cannot find release to escape.

via Dickinson, “I Never hear the word ‘escape’”.

Work in Progress

I hope to gain more knowledge and insight about great literary works and learn how to analyze the deeper meaning behind just the text. I hope to assist the class in literary analyses and be able to contribute to class discussions and work by utilizing my full potential. I hope to be able to give my input and opinions and build off of others as well to create a class atmosphere that is enjoyable and energetic whether we are working together online or in the classroom.

Even though The Great Gatsby was published 10 years later than 1915, which is our classes maximum time span, it’s a piece of American literature that I personally love and will always stick with me. My favorite quote is from a passage in the book which just speaks volumes to me and really pinpoints so much of human character.