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Final Prep: Hawthorne, Miller, Clemens, Crane

The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawtorne takes place in the seventeenth century, New England colony of Massachusetts. Hester Prynne is the protagonist of the novel. She is an English woman and the wife of Roger Chillingworth. She is tried and condemned for her sin of adultery with Dimmesdale and charged to wear the scarlet letter, “A”, an indication of adultery, on the bosom of her gown forever. Even though she has a daughter out of wedlock, she refuses to reveal who the father is. Arthur Dimmesdale is a young, handsome, and unmarried pastor of Hester’s church. He commits

adultery with Hester, he is guilty of hiding his sin. His suffering is reflected in his physical appearance. He is also considered a protagonist, like Hester. Roger Chillingworth is a physician who has sent his wife ahead of him to America. He

fails to join her quickly, because he is captured by Indians from where he gathers the knowledge of herbal medicine. He is an old, evil, vicious, ugly, and deformed man. His vengeance on Dimmesdale, while pretending to treat him, makes him evil. Pearl is the daughter of Hester and Dimmesdale. She is the living symbol of the scarlet

letter and has peculiar traits that make her sometimes appear as a demon. Mistress Hibbins is the of Governor Bellingham in the novel. She appears to be know

of Hester and Dimmesdale’s adultery and their secret meeting in the forest. She alone dares to meet Hester in the open and invites her to join in the festivities when Hester goes to the Governor’s house.

Hester wants to protect the identity of Dimmesdale as Pearl’s father in order to protect the minister from the public shame of sin. Hester’s husband wants to find out the identity of Hester’s lover, so he can have his revenge. When he begins to suspect that it is Dimmesdale, he tortures the minister while pretending to help him. A woman named Hester Prynne and a preacher named Arthur Dimmesdale commit adultery. They have a child together. Hester is condemned and refuses to name who the father of Pearl is. Roger Prynne, Hester s husband comes to town and is very evil and cruel. The rest of the book plays out the events that the one crime causes to happen and how affects everyone involved.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller is set in the last decade of the 17th century in Salem, Massachusetts. Reverend Parris is the recently appointed minister in Salem and father of Betty Parris.. His belief in witches and his desire to punish his enemies set in motion the chain of events that leads to the hysteria in Salem. During the witch trials, he pressures Danforth, the chief judge, to punish those who, in his opinion, are possessed or in league with the Devil. John Proctor is a young successful farmer in Salem. He loves and respects his wife and is sorry of the one act of adultery he has committed with Abigail Williams, his former servant. He resents the greediness attitude of Reverend Parris and, therefore, invites his anger and suspicion. Elizabeth Proctor is John’s young wife and the mother of his three sons. She is pregnant with a fourth child. Though she has become somewhat bitter towards her husband on account of his relationship with Abigail. Abigail Williams is Reverend Parris’ niece. A mischievous girl of seventeen, she is the natural leader of the other girls in Salem and leads them in accusing many of the town’s citizens of witchcraft. She is also infatuated with John Proctor and wants to take Elizabeth’s place. Reverend John Hale is a minister from the nearly town of Beverly who is called by Reverend Parris to investigate his suspicions of witchcraft in Salem. As he becomes aware of Abigail’s, Parris’, and Hathorne’s hidden agendas, he begins to question the truth of the trials, in which he acts as a judge. He then tries to convince Danforth of the truth, but lacks the courage and conviction to openly oppose him.

John Proctor stands up for what is right, but is still executed. He and many other citizens of Salem, including Rebecca, are killed during the play. Rebecca, never once succumbs to the pressures of her enemies to “confess.” Proctor, on the other hand, faces one more moral crisis after bravely facing the court. At Hale’s prompting, he signs a confession to save his life, but, when he discovers it will be used to accuse his friends, he tears it up. His final refusal to give in to evil solidifies his public reputation as a good man and allows him to die with a clean conscience, having done his duty.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Samuel Clemens setting is the Mississippi River as it runs deep in the south. Huck Finn is the protagonist of the novel and the son of the town drunk. He is about 12 years old. Jim is the runaway slave of Miss Watson’s, whom Huck helps to gain freedom. Widow Douglas is Huck’s guardian who adopts him and wants to civilize him. Pap is Huck’s father who comes back to town when he learns that his son has become rich. Tom Sawyer is a friend of Huck who is about his same age. The outcome of the novel is with Huck deciding to go against the society and protect his friend. Even when Jim is sold back into slavery by the Duke and Dauphin, Huck is determined to find him and free him again. After Jim is freed, Huck decides to go west to escape the constraints of a society that he does not really understand or accept.

Jim shows Huck that he is a real human being, who has true feelings and who deeply cares for his family. Huck begins to understand Jim and accept his humanity. As a result, he is willing to fight for his friend. Unfortunately, society is not so kind. The Duke and Dauphin advertise that Jim is a runaway slave with a reward; therefore, many people want to capture and return him for cash. In the end, the Duke and Dauphin sell Jim as a piece of property to the Phelps. Even after Jim gives up his freedom to save the life of Tom Sawyer, he is still treated poorly; he is put in chains, and an armed guard stands watch over him. Twain obviously feels that slavery is the ultimate example of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man.

The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane is set during the United States Civil War, sometime between 1850 and 1865, the majority of the setting takes place on or near a battlefield. Henry Fleming is the Youth. He is a young man who joins the Civil War and dreams of greatness as a soldier. During the war, he experiences great anguish and grows from his experiences. Jim Conklin is the Tall Soldier who announces the first rumor of battle. He is later mortally wounded and dies as the Youth tries to help him.

Young Lieutenant is a man with an childish face who leads the 304th regiment. Wilson is a soldier who helps Henry when he returns injured. Early in the novel he is referred to as the Loud Soldier and later in the novel as the Friend of the Youth. Henry’s Mother is sad to see her son go off to war. Although uneducated, she is wise enough to realize that war is not like her son believes it to be.

The crisis of the novel occurs when the Youth faces battle and runs. The novel ends in comedy with Henry overcoming his fear and sense of shame. During the war effort, he realizes and accepts his own humanity. At the beginning of the novel, he has an

idealized notion of war. By the end of the novel, the Youth accepts himself as a man, in spite of his weaknesses. Henry accepts himself as a human being, capable of weaknesses, and forgives himself for his previous running away.

Youth withdraws alone on his fear of his own failure to face battle. When he does face battle the first time, he finds it so confusing and frightening in its disorganization and noise that he runs. When he faces battle later, not only is he not afraid, he seems oblivious of the danger he is in. Both his bravery and his fright are responses to battle that he could not have known ahead of time. The real experience of warfare is that the soldier cannot predict the circumstances that will make him run or stand and fight.


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