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Analysis of Hawthorne’s Introduction to The Scarlet Letter

In the “Custom House,” written as an introduction to The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne gives an autobiographical description of his life and times. The detailed descriptions of the scenes and people not only prepare the reader for the author’s style but also aim at recreating the author’s past. The preface concentrates on the author’s period of service at the Custom House during which time he came into contact with several people and had the opportunity to study human behaviour. The description of his co-employees and others shows the author’s deft hand at characterization, which is revealed during the novel. Further, the preface serves the purpose of giving a background to the novel and introduces America’s Puritanical ancestors. Through the novel, by taking a favourable view of Hester and Dimmesdale and by drawing Chillingworth in evil proportions, Hawthorne attempts to undo the wrong and injustice done by his ancestors. The reference to the discovery of the scarlet letter and some papers referring to the incident of a woman condemned like Hester is to strengthen the author’s claim of the authenticity of the story.

The passage I, by Frank Conroy, and passage II, by William Maxwell, are works of literature that deal with the nature of boyhood friendships. Both passages convey to the reader an idea that boyhood friendships are unbiased and are merely based on the fact that young boys appreciate the presence of other boys. The author conveys this idea through the use of figurative language and uses a very simple, innocent tone.

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Both passages discuss the nature of boyhood friendships and reveal that boyhood friendships occur just because boys are present near each other and are not based on anything else such as class or background. In the passage I, the author reveals that one boy named Frank makes a friendship with another boy named Tobey even though Tobey appears to have less money than Frank. Frank is described as having a new house, a new bike, and a bathing suit, while Tobey does not appear to have any of these facilities, which makes him appear to be less wealthy. Even though one boy appears to either be wealthier or have a dissimilar upbringing than the other, this does not stop them from playing together and go swimming. Furthermore, the author shows that the boys liked to play in the forest, and which is a natural area representing a place where there are no boundaries or separation by class. The boys play in the forest as equals and are away from society’s divisions by class or background.

In addition passage II, gives evidence, from the point of view of the author, on his preferences on making friends as a child. In the passage, the author states that “Boys don’t need much of an excuse to get on well together” and continues to state that one boy was glad to just have the company of the other boy. This is evidence that boys like to make friendships based simply on the fact that one boy is there for the other one.

The authors use a very innocent tone throughout their passages to show the nature of boyhood friendships. In a passage I, the author shows the boys using very simple and childish words to show that education or wealth was not a factor in the creation of their friendship. In passage II, the author also uses a very innocent tone, and describes his appreciation as a child of Cletus Smith for simple reasons such as his presence and describes his childhood memories of Cletus and recalls that he “seems to remember his smile and that he had large hands and feet for a boy of thirteen.” The use of an innocent tone reveals that as a young boy the author had no reason to make friends, except for the fact that he liked his presence.

The authors revealed in their passages that boys will make unbiased friendships. The authors depict in their passages that the boys made friendships with other boys even if the other boys were richer or poorer. The authors reveal the innocence of the friendships through the use of simple words and a childish tone that hides any sense of class or education from the reader.

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Analysis of Hawthorne's Introduction to The Scarlet Letter. (2021, Mar 02). Retrieved August 1, 2021, from