Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hester and her Needle

I've got nothing to share, because I haven't done anything all day except get up, go to work, come home, and soon I will be getting ready for bed.
So let me tell you about my class last semester.
I studied Early American Literature, covering the period up to 1870.
Truly awesome professor.
I can safely say that, because I know he won't read my blog, so this is not a form of sucking up.
He really was outstanding in class, very entertaining, and chili pepper hot according to
Those funny co-eds.
Anyway, I was never a big fan of this period, nor was I a fan of The Scarlet Letter.
Truthfully, I don't think I even read it in high school, even though I was supposed to.
Have you ever read it?
Do you remember it fondly?
I only remember watching the film in class, and the girl who played Hester Prynne had those awesome eyes.
(I also remember watching the short film, "Young Goodman Brown," and not being able to figure out what really happened with Goodman Brown. So confusing.)
When I saw this book on the syllabus, all I could think was, "Damn," followed immediately by, "Well now I can make up for what I didn't do in high school."
It took me about 2 weeks to get through "The Custom House".
That's about 20 pages, folks.
I was discouraged, but determined.
After all, it's only about 180 pages or so.
I got through the book.
When it came time to decide what to write about, it seemed logical to me to write about something I enjoy doing research on: needlework.
With that in mind I wrote a paper about Hester Prynne and needlework entitled "Finding Her Voice: The Representation of Needlework in The Scarlet Letter."
In my paper (20 pages with 2 pages of works cited!), I wrote how Hester's needlework, although featured in Chapter V as "Hester at her Needle", is really used as an ancillary activity for her, and is primarily symbolic to Hawthorne, who presents her as a one-dimensional character. I believe that instead of needlework being just the primary activity through which Hester earns her living, her needlework skills offer her an identity and a voice, and this is the method through which she can express herself freely. By studying Hester's needlework, and the history of needlework, the reader can discover information about Hester's upbringing, how she might have earned a living before her sin, how she maintains connectivity to her Boston community, and about her sexuality.
Interesting stuff for such a supposedly-boring piece of literature.
When's the last time you read it?
I might have to look at my paper and make it better during this semester break.
Unfortunately I don't think it is thesis worthy, but then who knows.
By the way - Huge Kudos to Caroline for getting a chapter of her thesis published - that's a big deal!
And I got to read it (nanny nanny boo boo).

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