In his autobiographical sketch, Hawthorne describes his ancestors as "dim and dusky," "grave, bearded, sable-cloaked, and steel crowned," "bitter persecutors" whose "better deeds" will be diminished by their bad ones.
There can be little doubt of Hawthorne's disdain for the stern morality and rigidity of the Puritans, and he imagines his predecessors' disdainful view of him: Their blood remains in his veins, but their intolerance and lack of humanity becomes the subject of his novel.
This ambivalence in his thoughts about his ancestors and his hometown is paralleled by his struggle with the need to exercise his artistic talent and the reality of supporting a family. Hawthorne wrote to his sister Elizabeth in , "No man can be a Poet and a Bookkeeper at the same time. His job at the Custom House stifles his creativity and imagination. The scarlet letter touches his soul he actually feels heat radiate from it , and while "the reader may smile," Hawthorne feels a tugging that haunts him like his ancestors.
In this preface, Hawthorne also shares his definition of the romance novel as he attempts to imagine Hester Prynne's story beyond Pue's manuscript account. A careful reading of this section explains the author's use of light chiaroscuro and setting as romance techniques in developing his themes.
Hawthorne explains that, in a certain light and time and place, objects ". Finally, the preface serves as means of authenticating the novel by explaining that Hawthorne had discovered in the Salem Custom House the faded scarlet A and the parchment sheets that contained the historical manuscript on which the novel is based. However, we know of no serious, scholarly work that suggests Hawthorne was ever actually in possession of the letter or the manuscript.
This technique, typical of the narrative conventions of his time, serves as a way of giving his story an air of historic truth. Furthermore, Hawthorne, in his story, "Endicott and the Red Cross," published nine years before he took his Custom House position, described the incident of a woman who, like Hester Prynne, was forced to wear a letter A on her breast.
In "The Custom-House," we find out that our narrator is the chief executive officer of the Salem Custom-House sometime during the mids. His account is a mixture of fact and fiction and loosely follows the story of how Hawthorne himself came to write The Scarlet Letter.
A Custom House is a governmental building situated near a port or a wharf. All sailors, sea captains, merchants, and sea traders are required to report directly to the Custom when they land to pay tax on their imported goods.
Things aren't so hopping in this particular Custom House in Salem—business has slowed down and the building itself is falling apart. The narrator describes a statue of the American eagle i. Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American eagle, with outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I recollect aright, a bunch of intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw.
With the customary infirmity of temper that characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears, by the fierceness of her beak and eye, and the general truculency of her attitude, to threaten mischief to the inoffensive community.
We all know the eagle is one of the most famous and beloved symbols of America and of the freedom that America represents. Here, however, we get the image of a very unwelcoming and unfeeling symbol, one that doesn't care whether you survive or not. In other words, have all the freedom you want—including the freedom to die uncared for.
This eagle seems to represent the attitude of the Puritans—who are perfectly happy to kick you out of the nest as soon as you make any movement.
A summary of The Custom-House: Introductory in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of The Scarlet Letter and what it means. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans.
The Custom-House The Custom House is largely an autobiographical sketch describing Hawthorne's life as an administrator of the Salem Custom House. It was written to enlarge the tale of The Scarlet Letter, since Hawthorne .
Summary Hawthorne begins The Scarlet Letter with a long introductory essay that generally functions as a preface but, more specifically, accomplishes four signi The Custom-House Sign In | Sign Up. Start your hour free trial to unlock this page The Custom House study guide and get instant access to the following: Summary; Themes; Characters; Critical Essays; You'll also get access to more than 30, additional guides and , Homework Help questions answered by our experts.
The Scarlet Letter - The Custom House Summary & Analysis Nathaniel Hawthorne This Study Guide consists of approximately 69 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need . Sep 21, · Summary. Writing in the first person, Hawthorne explains that he lost his job at the Salem Custom-House, where taxes on imports and exports are processed, when a new political party took office. He then describes his hard-hearted Puritan ancestors and how they would have thought that his work as a writer was unsuitable.