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The Scarlet letter


of the of the English Submitted The Scarlet Letter Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) was born as Anne Dudley to Thomas Dudley and Dorothy Yorke in Northampton, England. She married Simon Bradstreet at the age of 16. She was well schooled in history, literature and many languages. Both the Bradstreets and Anne’s parents migrated to America aboard the Arabella as part of the Winthrop Fleet of Puritan emigrants in 1630. Anne’s father and husband would later serve as Governors of Massacheutts Bay while she would write poetry. The Scarlet Letter was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) in the late 1840s and first published in 1850. By the narrator’s own admission the events portrayed in the Scarlet Letter had taken place at least two hundred years hence and this would put them in the lifetime of Anne Bradstreet.
There could be many comparisons between the trials and tribulations of Hester Prynne and the poetry of Anne Bradstreet. In A Dialogue Between Old New England and New, Bradstreet personifies both Englands and asks the past (Old England) to narrate her woes to her daughter (New England). As she writes: ‘What means this wailing tone, this mournful guise? Ah, tell thy Daughter; she may sympathize’ (Bradstreet, lines 7 & 8). In the course of the poem we see that the chief concerns and laments of the Old England were the conspiracies and manipulations in the royal household that were the cause of her shame and misery. In the life of Hester Prynne too we see that she has been victimized by first her husband and then her undisclosed lover, whom we later know as Roger Chillingworth and Arthur Dimmesdale respectively. Hester bears the shame and suffering and the ignominy imposed on her by the Boston community in silence, never once disclosing who her husband and lover are. Strangely, her husband and lover both swear her to secrecy while never once taking responsibility for their improper actions nor their ill-treatment or abuse of her. Though we see that in the course of the novel Hester and her daughter Pearl are condemned to live a life of solitude and despair, yet Hester manages to do so with aplomb and dignity, thus showing that she is a worthy protagonist. In reality it is the society that she lives in that is belittled by their treatment of her. Similarly in A Love Letter to her Husband, Bradstreet’s feeling of ‘Tell him, the countless steps that thou dost trace, That once a day thy spouse thou mayst embrace’ (Bradstreet, lines 21 & 22) may remind one eloquently of the feelings of Hester Prynne as she waited and expected that her husband would come forth and reveal his identity. But he never does, and Hester is finally buried with her lover.
Works Cited
Representative Poetry Online. The Poems of Anne Bradstreet. Web. Accessed on 01 March 2012 at http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/211.html

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