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Hester: The Missing Years of The Scarlet Letter

Why am I only on chapter 3 of Crime and Punishment?

I blame this book:

Hester: The Missing Years of The Scarlet Letter
A Novel by Paula Reed

Last week when I should have been reading Dostoyevsky (That’s the spelling I’ve decided to use.  If it’s good enough for SWB, it’s good enough for me), I was speeding through this book.

Here’s a paragraph from the book’s flyleaf:

Upon the death of her demonic husband, Hester Prynne is left a widow, and her daughter Pearl, a wealthy heiress.  Hester takes her daughter to live a quiet life in England, only to find herself drawn into the circle of the most powerful Puritan of all time, Oliver Cromwell.

In this story, Hester’s “A” has given her the ability to see sin and hypocrisy in others.  I enjoyed how the author took Hawthorne’s characters and tucked them into the history of England.  Having read The Scarlet Letter, I knew things about Hester’s past that other characters did not.

Admit it.  You’ve wondered what happened to Hester and Pearl during those years in England.  What brought Hester Prynne back to Puritan New England?  What about those letters she receives with the royal crest?  Author Paula Reed answers all those questions.

Hester: The Missing Years of The Scarlet Letter… it’s what’s on my nightstand.

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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in The Scarlet Letter

 

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Huh?

mountebank – a person who deceives others in order to trick them out of their money, or a person who sells quack medicine

Classical Usuage:  It was bound to happen sooner or later.  Classic Word of the Day meets Stupid Questions. I am completely confused about Hawthorne’s usage of the word.

Here’s the context.  Hester, Pearl and all of the Guys are at Governor Bellingham’s discussing whether or not Hester should be allowed to keep Pearl.  Dimmesdale gives a powerful, yet tremulous speech defending her right to keep the child since she was first given to her mother by God, both as a blessing and as a sting of ever-recurring agony, hence Pearl’s scarlet dress.

Mr. Wilson chimes in, “Well said, again! . . . I feared the woman had no better thought than to make a moutebank of her child!”  Dimmesdale replies that that is not the case, but that Hester recognizes the miracle which God hath wrought in the existence of her daughter.

Does he mean that Hester was going to use Pearl to get more money for things, or sympathy, or what?  I’m stuck.

Classically Mad Usage:  Well, until I find out what, if anything, Hawthorne meant by the word, then I suppose I can use it in any old way I like.  It can be my go-to fill-in-the-blank word, try “Hey, could you hand me that, um, mountebank?” or “I heard the most interesting story on NPR, it was about this, ah – mountebank that . . .” or “I had a great idea for a blog post, I was going to write about, well, uh, mountebanks.”

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2012 in The Scarlet Letter

 

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