Academic Level at Time of Creation


Date of Creation

Spring 5-2016


Gina Claywell, PhD


The Scarlet Letter and Novel Structure” examines Nathaniel Hawthorne’s use of narrative role and conflict in The Scarlet Letter. To start, the paper examines the novel’s opening chapter “The Custom-House” as a device utilized by Hawthorne to establish a narrator-reader relationship early in the work, and how this allows Hawthorne to influence the reader’s interpretations of the novel’s main trio: Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth. The paper then moves on to examine the utilization of conflict throughout the novel, which is structured in a unique way, when compared to other novels of the time, thanks to Hawthorne’s strong ability as a short story writer. Given the structure of Hawthorne’s romance, the reader sees conflict develop at three levels: the chapter, the act, and the novel as a whole. Lastly, the paper examines how Hawthorne employs the narrative technique of delay to multiply this conflict in the novel.