There are two ways to talk about setting in The Scarlet Letter. One way is to look at the meaning or emotional overtones of specific places. A second and broader way is to examine the whole Puritan world in which Hawthorne has set his novel. Not just the time and place, Boston in the 1640s, but the values and beliefs that define Puritan society.
THE MARKET-PLACE AND THE FOREST
Far and away
showed first 75 words of 2323 total
showed last 75 words of 2323 total
Henry James (the novelists' novelist and the acknowledged master of form in American fiction) disagrees. James dismisses the forest scenes- and indeed, any of the scenes where Hester plays a major part- as secondary. The Scarlet Letter, James says, is no love story. It is the story of retribution. And its center is the relationship between Dimmesdale and Chillingworth, the guilty lover and the sinister husband whose sole purpose is to keep that guilt alive.