Helen, Hester and Me

17 Feb

Phylactery:  n. a small leather box worn on both the head and arm by Orthodox Jewish men during weekday morning prayers

Classical Usage:  I’m really glad this word was on my list, because I’ve been meaning to talk about this portion of the book, and now that we are about to embark on our Scarlet Letter voyage it’s even more fitting.  As most of us know, Hester Prynne is made to wear a red ‘A’ to mark her as one who violated the sixth commandment (or seventh if you don’t like the way we Lutherans count.)
_____In Jane Eyre sweet, sick, little Helen is made to endure a similar marking, and this is where our word of the day fits in.  After Miss Scatcherd finds Helen’s belongings in disarray she, “wrote in conspicuous characters on a piece of paste-board the word ‘Slattern,’ and bound it like a phylactery round Helen’s large, mild, intelligent, and benign-looking forehead.”

Classically Mad Usuage:  I won’t be modelling a Scarlet A for you any time soon, but if the shoe fits your large, mild, benign-looking forehead . . .

What?  You thought I was going to put “Slattern” on there?  Nope, not after I googled the other connotations of that label.  No siree, I’ll leave that one for Hester.

1 Comment

Posted by on February 17, 2012 in Jane Eyre, The Scarlet Letter


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