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Scarlet Letter: Novel v Movie

Uploaded by Brent Goodin on Feb 15, 2002

Films of this age are often criticized for lacking ‘substance’ and compensate for this discrepancy with explosions and elaborate camera work. Books, on the other hand, demand a bit more respect from the general public. Many believe that concocting a script is an unsophisticated mode of writing, a copper to the gold of a novel. After careful scrutiny of both, the novel, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and viewing the rendition of the Scarlet Letter by Roland Joffe, one can immediately comprehend the enormous amount of work put into both, as well as the innumerable differences and similarities between them. It is easy enough to discern the common and uncommon features but one must think of why the filmmaker may have used a specific 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 modification is well used; there are major differences in regard to time usage, characterization, visual imagery and symbolism, narration, plot, and tone. The first hour of the movie was devoted to informing the viewer about the background. The film was set in motion when Hester arrived in the New World, not at the grim prison door she passed through on her way to the scaffold in the novel. Many characters not included in the novel were inserted into the film, several of whom were pivotal to the plot. Mituba, Hester’s introverted slave girl, Brewster, the coarse, undisciplined rule-breaker, Goody Gotwick, the mouthpiece of the community’s “pious women,” and Minister Cheever, the influential church leader who attempted to serve as the judge of the community’s morals did not exist in the novel. Mistress Hibbins’ relationship to Governor Bellingham was ambiguous and not well portrayed. It was almost as if they were acquaintances. In the book, their connection prevented her persecution, whereas in the movie, no familial bond protected mistress Hibbins from the cruel witch trials typical of the seventeenth century. Her minor function in the in the book, evolved into an imperative role in the movie. In addition to Hester, mistress Hibbins was as the only character that behaved according to her personal beliefs, and not the traditional values of the Puritans. Dimmesdale’s character was stronger in the film and certainly...

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Uploaded by:   Brent Goodin

Date:   02/15/2002

Category:   Film

Length:   13 pages (2,829 words)

Views:   4511

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