Examine The Scarlet Letter as an open ended novel.
Narrative in The Scarlet Letter is quite complicated. It encompasses both action and commentary. The commentary is through a narrator, projected in the Introduction, who examines the past from the point of view of a nineteenth century observer. Even the supernatural and the folk beliefs of midseventeenth century New England are subjected to the narrator’s incisive irony and scepticism. In this unit we will also give you an idea of the symmetrical design, form and content and open-endedness of the text.
The Scarlet Letter is a carefully designed work’of fiction in which the supernatural, the marvellous, and the strange have been artistically fused. Although Hawthorne considered himself a romancer rather than a novelist, he aiso admired the well-made novel in which the incidents and scenes are arranged in a symmetrical order, leading to a profound concentration and intensification of meaning. F.O. Matthiessen has rightly observed that Hawthorne has developed in The Scarlet Letter his most coherent plot (Norton Critical Edition, p.279). It is the result of beginning the tale with a scaffold scene and also rounding the tale with a scaffold scene near the end. There is also a scaffold scene right in the middle of the tale. There is no wonder that the scaffold of the pillory comes to acquire a hallowed status for the three major characters in the romance-novel.