By: Natalie Alkire, Sarah Mahmalji, Christina Nusbaum
The Scarlet Letter Interpretation
Part I: Novel - The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Movie Version: Easy A
1) Setting: 17th century in the Puritan town of Boston, Massachusetts.
Main Characters: Hester Prynne - Protagonist; the wearer of the "scarlet letter" (A) that signifies her sin of being an adulterer. She married Roger "Chillingworth", who sent her to America and was supposed to meet her there but he never came. Hester had an affair with Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale and gave birth to his daughter pearl.
Pearl - Hester and Dimmesdales daughter- she is impish and somewhat cunning (she discovers the truth about her mother and father). There are rumors spread that she is the spawn of the devil.
Roger Chillingworth - Hesters husband in disguise; he is much older than Hester. He arrived to America long after Hester does, but when he does arrive he sees Hester and her illegitimate child on the scaffold. He decides seek revenge on Hester's lover, so he disguises himself as a doctor, intent on learning the identity of Hester's lover.
Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale - Pearls father and the man Hester had an affair with; at first he does not publicly confess that he is Pearls father. He develops a heart condition that is supposedly caused by his guilt. As a man of God he endures constant conflict with his sins and his need to confess.
2) Themes: Sin/Knowledge - Hester & Dimmesdale both think and contemplate their sins everyday and try to reconcile. The townspeople detest Hester because of her sin (adultery), and she is forced to wear a scarlet "A" on her chest to show this.
Evil - Shown through Pearl as some believe her to be the Devil's child; it is reasonable to question if Hester's affair caused Chillingworth to turn evil.
Relevant to today's society through the portrayal of the role of reputation and secrets.
3) 3 Key Scenes:
1. Hester being paraded through the town wearing the scarlet letter "A" while the town detests her and shows their disapproval of her actions; when Hester stands on the scaffold holding baby Pearl (who was born in prison), and Hester refuses to name Dimmesdale as the man she had an affair with.
2. When Chillingworth arrives while Hester is on the scaffold; he visits her before she is released from prison and tells her not to tell anyone he's in town and he decides to seek revenge on her lover.
3. Dimmesdale's confession to the town; after 7 years he finally confesses on the same scaffold that Hester was shamed on that he is Pearl's father; he throws open his shirt to reveal the scarlet letter that he carved on his chest and finds peace through his confession.
4. Movie review of "Easy A": In the movie "Easy A", we are able to see a decent amount of parallels between this story and "The Scarlet Letter". In this film, Olive, the main character, shows qualities of both Hester and Pearl. Like Hester, Olive was made the common infamy "at which all mankind was summoned to point its finger"; this worked very well in the movie. The town of Boston learns of Hester's unfaithfulness and forced her to wear a red "A" on her breast to represent her adultery; Olive becomes known as the school "slut"- Olive did not want this as the rumors were not true. At this time, Olives class was reading the book "The Scarlet Letter", and one of her classmates suggested that she should wear the red "A" on her chest just like Hester- and she did. This worked very well. As Olive's character is detested, she lives with the consequences of her choices as does Hester. Both Hester and Olive deal with their situations with their heads held high, are intelligent, and attempt to do good despite their social outcast. Another good correlation is that the religious group (led by Amanda Bynes), are nearly hell-bent on delivering consequences to Olive; this is seen in the book by the townspeople wanting Hester to pay for her bad deeds. Some things that did not work very well in this film is the fact that Olive is not pregnant and is actually still a virgin; she has family support, and unlike Hester, she tries to persuade her male "partners" to tell the truth about their relationship. Also, the scarlet "A's" that both of these characters wear seem to have different meanings. Overall, Easy A was not a perfect or complete re-telling of The Scarlet Letter, but more of a modern day look on the same type of situation, and mostly did a good job of portraying the Scarlet Letter in a modern tale.
My new interpretation will be a more liberal take on this story. Certain ideas will be highlighted even more. The character will have to go through serious embarrassment in order to grow a thicker skin to become the person she is meant to be. This story will focus more on the aspect of growing out of a childhood and maturing into a responsible woman. This take will lightly mirror the show "16 & Pregnant" as the main character will be a pregnant teen in high school. Placing this character in high school will exemplify the pressure and criticism that comes from life and is similar to Hester Prynne's town. The protagonist will be renamed to be Heather and will have to face her peers in a horrifyingly negative place. The high school is symbolism for negativity, but also a journey that everyone has to take, but this extreme situation makes it even more unbearable. The school will be set in the deep South, a small town in Alabama, where conservative Christian values will contrast this girls predicament. The ostracism will stay the same, but this story will be modernized greatly to the present day. The characters will be Heather, her boyfriend (Albert), their child, and a social security worker who represents a modern version of Ms. Hibbins. This story will not portray Heather negatively, so the cheating aspect of the original story will not be present, and the boyfriend will not be blamed. To criticize even further, the sexism still going on even in modern times. This will be her journey through surviving high school while pregnant, in order to mature and be a young mother.
- Scarlet Prynne: Cheerleader: Scarlet is a tall, fair, brunette, with soft brown eyes. Beautiful on the inside and outside, Scarlet does everything in her power to protect her child, Piper, and her boyfriend, Albert. Scarlet is headstrong and will fight for whatever she believes in and will stop at no costs to protect her family. Scarlet tries her best to be as civil as possible, when her daughter is born in order for Piper live a normal childhood, the last thing that Scarlet would want to do is cause her child harm, or have her taken away from her care.
- Albert Dimmsdale: Football Player: Sweet, Sensitive, and Protective; Soft-spoken, keeps to himself, good-natured; Stand up for what he believes in and others; Takes care for the people he loves;
- Piper Prynne: Piper is a baby, about a couple months old; she doesn’t cry and she’s a very easy child to take care of
- Holly Hibbins : Social worker and family friends with Scarlet and Albert; She’s a hard worker and does her job very well, but she does get emotionally attached to her clients. Problems arise when the school thinks that 2 teenagers should raise a child; she is bound by her job to keep things under control, even though she cares for the family very well, she has to think about the child and her welfare.
Heather Prynne: Shailene Woodley & Emma Watson
Albert Dimmsdale: Zac Efron & Dave Franco
Piper Prynne: Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana
Holly Hibbins: Jamie Lee Curtis & Julie Andrews
The setting will be in Alabama to show a small town and how information can be spread like wild fire. A picture of the school will be utmost important, as well as pictures to emphasize her clique, because this will show her as a popular figure. She will be a popular cheerleader, and peppy music with "Cool Kids" will be played in the background as one of her friends is not very popular and wishes to be more like Heather. This will show the contrast between the girls, when Heather finds out about being pregnant all her popular friends will turn their backs on her. Even the unpopular friend will turn her back on Heather. This will all emphasize the ostracism, Hester experienced. The costumes will be a cheerleader uniform as well as everyday wear, jeans and blouses. The boyfriend will have a more "frat" boy appearance, polo shirts and kaki shorts. The music will range throughout the story mimicking the attitudes and emotions of Heather. For instance, when she finds out she is pregnant, the song "You Had a Bad Day" will play in the background. The music will be modern cliché songs from the past decade and a half.