The Scarlet Letter – What & Why


For our book about a book project, we have decided to create 8 journals or reflections of Hester Prynne. The journal is intended to look like something Hester has created. In terms of material and visual display for our book, we’ve come about with the idea of creating a book that seems timeless/old, maybe torn and very used. The material for our pages inside the book will consist of a simple brown paper. My group members and I will enhance the worn out look of it. Also, on the top right corner of each page, our group thought about having a small but visible imprint of the letter “A”. We were thinking, for textual purposes, like how a letter was stamped with wax, we can find something similar to represent the “A”.

We took a slightly different approach for the cover, but with the same vintage feeling. We were thinking, if possible, our cover will be made out of a soft wood, maybe chipboard. But, we would probably use more than one piece for thickness. Also, the binding of our book will be somewhat sewn together out of fabric. The design of the cover will have a large imprint of the letter “A”, also inspired by the paper haptic experience.


Being that the narrator of the book itself tells this story based on a manuscript he finds in a customhouse, our group felt it would be appropriate to make a physical book. Since our ‘book about a book’ will be from the perspective of Hester, we are going to make it with specific materials that reflect Hester’s character. As Hester was isolated to the outskirts of the town as close to the woods as one could be, we decided to make the book out of natural-looking materials. The idea being that Hester created this journal herself out of materials she found and made use of around her house. Our group is making the pages look worn being that this will be a book that will have been made during a time of Puritan settlements. The materials we use to make the book will reflect Hester’s individuality such as the binding of the book being sewn, as that was something Hester was known around the town for.

By creating a book about a book in the form of a journal, we hope to make the readers of our book look at the story in a new light. It was originally written by a narrator in the third person, but our book will be from the perspective of a specific character. After I attended the book series panels, I realized the important of the haptic experience of paper. This influenced my group and I to make sure there is a physical component and experience for the reader. Making the paper look and feel worn and marked reflects Hester as an individual as she has been marked with the letter ‘A’ and been through difficult times herself. By stamping the letter ‘A’ onto the paper with a material that sticks out from the paper and can be felt, we hope to highlight the letter Hester had to wear that stood out from everything she wore. We plan to use the materials mentioned above as well as more that we think of in the future to reflect the personality and experiences of the character we are making our ‘book’ from the perspective of.

Through enLIGHTenment You Will Find Yourself

“And I stopped the blade, slicing the air as I pushed him away, letting him fall back to the street. I stared at him hard as the lights of a car stabbed through the darkness… a man almost killed by a phantom,” (Ellison, 4)

“My hole is warm and full of light. Yes, full of light. I doubt if there is a brighter spot in all New York than this hole of mine” (Ellison, 6)

The prologue of any literary piece serves primarily as an introduction to the themes and ideas to come in the book. In the case of “Invisible Man”, the prologue introduces many of the themes to follow in Ellison’s book. The narrator of this prologue as we come to find is black. He is invisible to the inner eye of whites because of their preconceived notions of who he is and as a result he is invisible. The narrator is not a true human being in the eyes of their society, and Ellison tries to highlight this struggle African-Americans have in this search for their identity and individuality. The theme of light as seen in these two passages of the prologue is used to try to connect the idea of light to the narrator’s sense of identity. As he states, “The truth is the light and the light is the truth” (Ellison, 7). Just as the narrator is about to kill a blond man, as he calls himself a phantom rather than a man as he is doing so. Then, as a car’s lights shine through the darkness at him, he is given an identity and his reality is reinforced that he is a human being. This idea of light that he fills his new home with that he is stealing from the ‘white’ power source, is associated with knowledge. This idea of light could also be connected to this process of enlightenment the narrator is going through as he is finding his individuality and identity.

The narrator is searching for an identity in a world that puts him in the shadows, and this theme of light is a symbol of his finding individuality in a society that doesn’t see it in him.

Look inside yourSELF to be a scholar

In Ralph Emerson’s speech “The American Scholar”, he gives a surprising and new message to his Harvard student listeners. Emerson stresses to his audience what it truly means to be a scholar, however this definition of scholar isn’t what these students are. Emerson was transcendentalist himself, and his speech was full of transcendental themes as his definition of what a true scholar is was based on transcendental principles. Around paragraph 31 of his speech, Emerson begins to use the term ‘self’ such as “self-relying”, “self-trust”, and “self-directed”. Emerson is telling these listeners (students) that if they want to be the true scholars that they think they are, they need to think for themselves. This idea of self and Emerson’s emphasis on it reflects the overall message Emerson is trying to get across to the listeners. Emerson is trying to send a message to his listeners that they need to always remain independent in their thinking and in their actions. Although reading is good and necessary as Emerson says, he wants to stress to these students that they need to put the books down and stop glorifying these dead thinkers from Europe. In the eyes of Emerson, if you want to be a true scholar you need to develop your own thoughts in isolation in order to discover universal ideas. Emerson stresses the idea of self-trust and repeats it in the paragraph to show the listeners that this ‘truth’ is present in all of us and can be found if we look for it. Emerson is telling these students to stop glorifying the writers and thinkers of the books they’re reading and instead find their self-worth within themselves rather than these other thinkers. If we can understand the reasons Emerson emphasizes the sense of self and his transcendental background, we as readers can better understand Emerson’s definition of what a true scholar is.