Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Inspiration! Salem, MA

One of the most exciting parts of the Boston trip, for me, involved a Hawthorne site.  The most exciting part of it was:  I wasn't prepared!  It wasn't in my trusty literary guidebook (Traveling Across Literary America) so I didn't know to look for it.   I mean, maybe it was in the guidebook but, though I thought I digested those pages thoroughly, I must have missed it. 

So, without further adieu, the site that got my blood pumping like my morning Starbucks latte does, was St. Peter's Episcopal Church.  Huh?  What's that, you say?  I know, I know, I said the same thing.  So, let me explain. 

If you've read the "Introduction to The Scarlet Letter, something that I'm sure most of my students missed, you hear Hawthorne's explanation of what inspired him to write this classic American novel documenting the shame and guilt of our early nation.  in addition to the fact that he was shamed and stupefied by his ancestor, John Hathorne's, behavior during the salem Witch trials, he also had an experience while working as a town official in the Customs House.  While up in the attic, he says that he uncovered something - a letter.  I probably don't need to go further because you see where this is going.  yes!  This was indeed the letter that inspired THE letter with the florid complexion, that triggers thoughts of lust and which garners much attention.

So yeah, while wandering through Salem, trying to find the "other" witch museum, we went down the wrong street and saw a plaque explaining the significance of St. Peters.  It was in THIS church that Hawthorne cooked up his beautifully tragic story of Hester Prynne.  I really felt privy to a wonderful literary secret and I'm happy to share it with you.  

There was also a wedding going on when we passed the church.  From a distance, several feet of the bride's white gown was visible through the bright red (what a coincidence, though they weren't scarlet) door and it was really pretty cool.   I never got to see the faces of the bride and groom, and I didn't seem to capture the lovely moment quite so interestingly in my photo, but hopefully you'll get the idea.  

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