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The Scarlet Letter is a classic American novel of sin and punishment It was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1840 and was his first great work Hawthorne was one of the three primary transcendental pessimists He disagreed with transcendental optimists on theological reasons His works often defend and attack the beliefs of the Puritans In The Scarlet Letter he presents the chronicle of a woman in a Puritan town who is branded and punished for her sin Hawthorne uses this book to state that with sin comes consequences and guilt but the guilt can be erased with repentance without pride The book begins as the narrator presumably Hawthorne makes a discovery This discovery occurs at the Custom House while the narrator is working there The Custom House was a place where the taxes were collected and records were kept While looking through these records a crimson piece of cloth with a golden A embroidered on it is found along with a fools cap and manuscripts relating the events that had taken place in this town The Custom House is a necessary part of this book It provides a great introduction to the story It gives the reader a small amount of background of the town of Salem and of the Puritans This also allows Hawthorne to present his real views on everything through the eyes of an impartial person It also adds a little bit of ambiguity one of Hawthornes main writing characteristics to the story Ambiguity is a double or inconclusive meaning in the story It is a powerful literary device and is useful to Romanticists It allows the readers to achieve their own conclusions in a story stressing the individual In the Custom House ambiguity is useful to the story because one does not know if the narrator is Hawthorne himself or a complete work of fiction He could also be a combination of the two Hawthorne worked in this Custom House before
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