Topics for Further Study

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  • Research the role of Hawthorne's relative, John Hathorne, in the Salem witch trials and discuss how this influences your interpretation of the novel.
  • Read a work by one of Hawthorne's transcendentalist contemporaries (like Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature, or Henry David Thoreau's Walden) and compare what you think to be their world view with that of Hawthorne's.
  • Investigate the idea of crime and/or the role of women in colonial New England and compare your findings with Hawthorne's representation of Hester. You might want to consider what the Puritans feared that would justify their particular laws and actions.
  • Look at some histories of the European revolutions of 1848 and consider why they may have caused Hawthorne some anxiety.

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