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When She Woke
"Jordan blends hot-button issues such as separation of Church and State,...
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What similarities do you see between When She Woke and The Scarlet Letter?

Created: 10/21/12

Replies: 7

Posted Oct. 21, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
admin

Join Date: 10/11/10

Posts: 369

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What similarities do you see between When She Woke and The Scarlet Letter?

When She Woke is a riff on The Scarlet Letter. What similarities do you see in Jordan's near-future America and Hawthorne's late-seventeenth-century Boston? Is Hannah Payne a faithful reimagining of Hester Prynne, or do the two characters differ in important ways? Why do you think Jordan chose The Scarlet Letter as a jumping-off point for her story?


Posted Oct. 23, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
janeh

Join Date: 06/15/11

Posts: 102

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RE: What similarities do you see between When She Woke and The Scarlet Letter?

I saw the similarities right from the start. In The Scarlett Letter, it might have been logistically difficult and almost impossible for Hester to remove herself from the society she was in, but there were possibilities for her if she could get out of the town and relocate to another community to begin over. There were no such options for Hannah as it seemed the entire nation was party to the morals imposed upon her.


Posted Oct. 23, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 138

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RE: What similarities do you see between When She Woke and The Scarlet Letter?

Very similar, although, When She Woke kicks it up a notch and makes the adultery much more visible. Both books underline the truth that women bear the burden of the stigma of an affair much more than a man both because of societal prejudices and because we run the risk of pregnancy


Posted Oct. 25, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
paml

Join Date: 10/25/12

Posts: 36

RE: What similarities do you see between When She Woke and The Scarlet Letter?

Very clever of Hillary Jordan to use The Scarlet Letter as the jumping off for When She Awoke. The color red, for a harlot in The Scarlet Letter and a murderer in When She Awoke. And all the moralities that each of these crimes bring with them. So true that the men in each of these novels suffer none of the consequences. Has society really changed? Why I love the classics, human nature really doesn't change, just the time and perhaps the circumstances.


Posted Oct. 25, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 560

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RE: What similarities do you see between When She Woke and The Scarlet Letter?

Interestingly, in the interview at BookBrowse, Hillary says she didn't set out to write a version of The Scarlet Letter - the similarities only came to her during the writing: http://www.bookbrowse.com/reading_guides/detail/index.cfm/book_number/2625/when-she-woke....

The original story fragment of When She Woke centered on a young woman who'd been turned red as punishment for murdering her sister's abusive husband. At first (and unbelievably to me now) I didn't make the connection between my stigmatized heroine and Hawthorne's. And then one day Hester Prynne and her scarlet A popped into my mind, and I thought, Huh, I should reread that book. And I did, that very afternoon, for the first time since high school, and it sparked all sorts of interesting connections and ideas. Hester is made to stand on a scaffold in front of the whole community and exhibit the mark of her shame. So what, I asked myself, would the futuristic equivalent of a scaffold be? Reality TV, of course, only in a more sinister form. Hester is impregnated by a charismatic clergyman, the analogue of which would be ... a megachurch preacher. And because of The Scarlet Letter, my future America ended up being not just cruel and repressive but also essentially a theocracy, as seventeenth-century Boston was. But while the beginning of When She Woke owes a lot to Hawthorne, the two story lines diverge sharply after that. I didn't adhere to The Scarlet Letter as much as riff on it. Which was a lot of fun because it's a book I truly love.


Posted Oct. 25, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
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christy

Join Date: 05/22/12

Posts: 41

RE: What similarities do you see between When She Woke and The Scarlet Letter?

Thank you, Davinia, for highlighting that interview because it was so interesting. After I had read that interview it prompted me to jump directly into Hawthorne's tale. I was long overdue for a re-read of The Scarlet Letter and so I picked it up right after finishing When She Woke. Reading them so closely together like that it was easy to feel the huge differences in Hester and Hannah but enjoy some of the similarities.

Both women were beautifully (painfully) strong while simultaneously fragile. Aside from some shared character traits of the protagonists H and H, and Dimmesdale and Duke, the flavor and feel of the two stories were very different; each interesting in their own right. I loved how different they were yet revolved around similar mores of their 'eras.'


Posted Nov. 02, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Peggy H

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 45

RE: What similarities do you see between When She Woke and The Scarlet Letter?

I should probably reread Scarlet Letter as above did. Yes, I saw the similarities: color red, first letter of name, etc. We remember what we have read and can unconsciously incorporate in our own writing. I felt that the author set the book in the future well while incorporating current moral feelings and roles of men and women.


Pegh
Posted Nov. 06, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Erin G

Join Date: 05/24/12

Posts: 41

RE: What similarities do you see between When She Woke and The Scarlet Letter?

The rendering of Hester Prynne's "Pearl of great price" as Hannah's creepily realistic handmade doll was really disturbing. That was a particularly haunting echo of The Scarlet Letter.


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