[KB] The Scarlet Letter and Zombies 5

les.bruder@usbank.com les.bruder at usbank.com
Thu Jan 14 16:42:46 EST 2010


A vote for a Burke-besotted Ed Appel.

Thought I would point out a tiny discrepancy between your first and last 
Zombie installments, Ed, or is it an ambiguity?

Re: Unfaithful or Faithful to Hawthorne?

If I understand you correctly, Ed, you appear to be saying that a remake 
of a classic tale (twice told) may not necessarily be a zombie; that 
purists are by no means in the majority, and that being unfaithful to 
Hawthorne is a form of faithfulness on a higher, historicist plane, if we 
think of the materials that go into drama as plastic.  It is interesting 
to look at perspective not just geometrically but intensively, as a 
difference in situation, in which the story teller is obligated to do 
something with a story otherwise too familiar to be simply repeated.  The 
archetypal vein is variously rich and poor, I assume, since a love 
triangle is so commonplace and may be trivialized as well as enriched.  A 
range of Scarlet Letters exist and will continue to pour off that 
dis/assembly line. 

One typical feature of genre fiction is the hovering between nightmare and 
dream, and in the case before us, a near-death experience becomes a 
promise of consummate love.  That?s your typical Hollywood ending?romance 
tragic or comic? Ah, comic this time around.  The grimacing comic and 
tragic masks along with the Scarlet Letter come off.  The transformation 
of the symbol mirrors language change and cultural transvaluation, as the 
social stigma worn on the outside, perhaps  symbolizing a chastity belt, 
performs a counter-magic and becomes another well-known piece of lingerie. 


This is satisfying to the reader/audience I suppose because it is so neat 
and tidy, so perfectly authored and designed.  Perhaps it is such polish 
that we both crave and abhor.  Hawthorne the author plays god (lower case 
g) and puts the final touch to an episode which no doubt in reality would 
have been messier and more tragic.  But as the Hollywood version wants to 
give the audience what it craves, the whole plot plays out like a 
courtship that hangs in the balance, and the suspense only heightens our 
pleasure at the end when the g-string (to use Northrop Frye?s quaint 
phrase?The Secular Scripture: A Study of the Structure of Romance) finally 
comes off. 

Les
U.S. BANCORP made the following annotations
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