The Scarlet Letter****: Journal “Notes”
English 11 A.P. (Burns)
Your journal submissions need to validate that you have read Hawthorne’s
text. There are literally thousands of places where you can access the story of
Hester Prynne: there is only one place, however, where you can access The
Scarlet Letter. If you do not produce the text which convinces me you have
read, I see no reason to credit you for doing so.
Organize your notes: try labeling, for instance. If I cannot read them, I
won’t. If I cannot find them, I won’t.
Your notes should evidence you have read the entire assignment: if I ask you
to “track” something, you will need to provide enough examples to do so; if
I ask you for “links,” or “suggestions,” or “examples” I am asking for
multiple references to the text.
Providing the textual data referenced above is a beginning: if you are
interested in impressing me* you will need to interact with the text**.
Let me say this one last time: if your responses have no references to the text,
they have no value. And a synonym for no value is “0.” ***
Your responses require a claim/thesis/argument. Whichever term you
prefer, you must have a specific rationale which correlates with the prompt
you have been given.
In order for you to answer a prompt effectively, you should indicate you have
paid attention to the infinite number of models you have been given: claim,
evidence, commentary. Repeat. We are talking at least 8-11 sentences here.
* If you are not interested in impressing me, then we both need to question why you
** see next page for examples
*** Yes, I know this is a fragment: when a writer consistently exhibits control of the
fundamentals of standard written English s/he can use fragments for rhetorical
**** If you don’t wish your scarlet letter to be of the “E” variety, you will take this
document to heart.
Journal Notes: Example for earning an “A”
Prompt: Note some suggestions that the public has not relented in their
treatment of Hester.
“…she would become the general symbol at which the preacher and moralist
Not only those who were in official positions, but anyone who considered him/herself
to be upstanding would use Hester as a living example of moral wretchedness.
“…the young and old would be taught to look at her…as the figure, the body,
the reality of sin.”
Hester is a walking sermon, useful to dissuade Puritan faithful of present and future
“…over her grave, the infamy that she must carry thither would be her only
Even death will not release her from the public’s scrutiny: her sin will be her only
“it is not recorded that, in a single instance, her skill was called in aid to
embroider the white veil which was to cover the pure blushes of a bride.”
While they will certainly exploit Hester’s skill for their own benefit, she will never be
allowed to even associate with the sacrament of marriage.
“…she was banished, and as much alone as if she inhabited another sphere.”
Hester is so far removed from society, it’s as if she is on an entirely separate planet.
“…if she entered a church…it was often her mishap to find herself the text of
This is never a good sign. Far from being a sanctuary, the church, for Hester, is even
more punitive than the prison.