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The Scarlet Letter: Novel vs. Film

Uploaded by saritagarcia113 on Feb 10, 2001

Films of this era are criticized for lacking “substance” and making up for this deficit with explosions and special effects. Books command a bit more respect from the general public. Many believe that devising a script is a juvenile form of writing, a shrub to the oak of a novel. Upon reading both the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and viewing the film produced by Roland Joffe, one can immediately notice the intense work put into both., as well as the many differences and similarities between them. It takes more thought to progress past these common and uncommon factors, to think of why the filmmaker may have used a certain lighting, or how colors were used to symbolize themes from the book. Analysis answers the questions: “How did the two differ? How were they the same? Why did the filmmaker make these decisions?”

The film is “freely adapted” from the novel. The word “free” describing the adaptation is well used- there are major differences in terms of time frame, characters, visual imagery and symbolism, plot, narration, and tone. Nearly an hour of information the reader received only as background was on tape. The film began when Hester arrived in the New World, not at the dreary prison door she passed through on her way to the scaffold in the novel. Many characters were added to the film, several of whom were central to the plot. Mituba, Hester’s mute slave girl, Brewster, the lewd, undisciplined rule-breaker, Goody Gotwick, the mouthpiece of the community’s “pious women,” and Minister Cheever, the powerful church leader who attempted to serve as arbiter of the community’s morals did not exist in the novel. Mistress Hibbins’ relationship to Governor Bellingham was of a citizen to ruler nature. In the book, their relationship prevented her persecution, whereas in the movie, no family ties protected mistress Hibbins from the cruel witch trials characteristic of the 1600’s. Her character progressed from minor in the book to a supporting role in the movie. She served as the only character besides Hester who behaved according to her personal beliefs, and not the conformities of the Puritans. Dimmesdale’s character was stronger in the film; less tormented. He did not appear to have heart trouble, (although it was mentioned when the film commenced that he died before Pearl reached her teens) and took a dynamic role in all occasions except for one involving...

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Uploaded by:   saritagarcia113

Date:   02/10/2001

Category:   The Scarlet Letter

Length:   14 pages (3,072 words)

Views:   2380

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