Instructional Goal: To give students a thorough understanding of Hawthorne’s background so that they can make connections between his background and the story and to understand his possible motivations in writing the novel.
To gain a general understanding of the plot of the novel and to predict, question, connect to, and comment on possible events in the novel.
Performance Objectives: Students will identify important facts about Nathaniel Hawthorne through a web search. [Knowledge]
Students will predict character relationships and development in The Scarlet Letter through pre-reading strategies. [Comprehension, Application]
Students will generate a list of predictions, questions, comments, and connections from the back passage of The Scarlet Letter using Beers’ “Say Something” strategy [Application, Synthesis]
Students must have prerequisite knowledge about Puritan society (which they have garnered through their study of The Crucible), as well as Nathaniel Hawthorne in order to better understand the author’s purpose and motivations. Understanding key facts about Hawthorne’s life will inform the students’ reading of the four main characters and will help them to identify which characters Hawthorne hypothesizes with, which is important to their understanding of the novel’s themes. Students also need to have an introduction to the novel that gives them the basic details but still leaves room for their own predictions about plot and character relationships. It will be important to give them basic details so that they are not overwhelmed with trying to understand the basic plot and can instead focus on analysis.
Content: The Scarlet Letter was published in 1850, but the story is set in the 1640’s, just prior to the Salem witchcraft trials in the 1690’s. The time period the story takes place in is approximately 15-25 years after the settlement of the town and the historical events described in the novel place the opening scene at 1642 and the closing one at 1649.
Hawthorne was born into a New England Puritan family in 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts. After college Hawthorne began writing and hanging out with transcendentalist writers and thinkers including Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau.
Transcendentalism was a religious and philosophical movement of the early nineteenth century that was dedicated to the belief that divinity manifests itself everywhere, particularly in the natural world. It also advocated a personalized, direct relationship with the divine in place of formalized, structured religion (Sparknotes.com)