Tag Archives: english literature

Let’s Review: The Crucible

By Nim
Teen Advisory Group President


the-crucible

I’m back! It’s time for another edition of “AP English III Novel Reviews”, with your host, Nim! Let’s get started.

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Let’s Review: Hamlet

By the vice-president of the Teen Advisory Group:

Hi everyone! I am back after almost a year-long hiatus with a new series on English IV books (original, I know). My class recently finished Shakespeare’s play Hamlet and this short post will primarily focus on dissecting its main characters Hamlet and King Claudius without spoiling the plot too much.

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Let’s Review: Frederick Douglass

Next up in English III novels is a fairly short read in the autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by you guessed it, Frederick Douglass. Published in 1845, it captures the plight of slaves during this time. Beaten, raped, killed, and separated from their families, some slaves such as Douglass resolved to escape in search for freedom. Douglass finally succeeded after failed attempts and moved North where he became a free man. His childhood was marked by unimaginable sufferings but he reminds us that other slaves had it much worse which hints at the true horrors of slavery.

Douglass also explains ways how white masters kept slaves subservient, and among them is lack of access to education. Realizing this, young Douglass taught himself to read and write with the help of neighborhood white boys who sympathized with his situation. He also exposes the hypocrisy of white slave owners: they profess their faith to God yet own fellow human beings. Religion was much debated during this time as many whites used the Bible to justify slavery; however, Douglass disproves this and supports his anti-slavery argument not only using religion but also logic and morals.

It was definitely meaningful and inspiring to read the story of such an incredible individual who overcame his barriers as a slave and established himself as an advocate for other suffering slaves like he had been. It is no understatement to say that the works of people like Douglass contributed to the 13th amendment abolishing slavery, and I am happy to say that Mr. Douglass lived to see this day in 1865.

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Let’s Review: The Scarlet Letter

Second on the list of English III literature is The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne was on good terms with transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, but was a critic of the movement himself and held more pessimistic views on human nature. An interesting fact about Hawthorne’s ancestral lineage is that he was a descendant of John Hathorne, a leading voice in the Salem Witch Trials (and a minor character in The Crucible) and one of the only judges to never apologize for his actions sentencing “witches” to death. He was the reason Nathaniel Hawthorne decided to add a “w” to hide their relation, and The Scarlet Letter is seen as Hawthorne’s apology in his ancestor’s stead.

The novel is set in 17th century Boston, still a largely Puritan society. In the town lives young and beautiful Hester Prynne, who in the beginning of the novel is revealed to have committed adultery and is condemned by her entire community. Her punishment is wearing a scarlet “A” on her chest for the rest of her life and become an outcast in her Puritan society. She and her daughter, Pearl, live on the outskirts of town and learn to live in their own way. These two, especially Pearl, represent non-conformists to Puritan society. However, Hester’s kindness and good works ultimately lead to some respect and higher regards for her in the community. I won’t reveal the entire storyline here, but there are two men in Hester’s complicated love life: her former husband known as Roger Chillingworth and the reverend Dimmesdale. Both are inherently non-evil people, but both suffer from pain caused by sin, guilt, or revenge. The story of these two men and Hester and Pearl in this strictly Puritan society makes this novel a fairly enjoyable and interesting read (for an English class novel at least) and serves to highlight Hawthorne’s dislike and contempt for the hypocrisy of Puritan ideals that had caused the Salem Witch Trials during his ancestor’s time.

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