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  1. Why does Hawthorne use the phrase "But, one idle rainy day . . . "? What types of novels and stories often begin with such descriptions?
  2. The unopened documents Hawthorne describes are part of the fiction he creates. What details does he include to persuade his reader he is describing actual, historical documents?
  3. In the paragraph describing the scarlet letter, Hawthorne combines concrete descriptive details with a concluding sentence focusing on the strange feeling the letter evokes in him. What effect is created by this combination of concrete and mystical language?
  4. What does Hawthorne mean to signify by his account of the "burning heat" of the letter? How does this detail affect his pose as a historian presenting an account of actual events?
  5. What view of Hester Prynne's character does the old Surveyor's document convey? What does Hawthorne claim are the similarities and differences in The Scarlet Letter and the historical artifacts he discovered? Why do you think Hawthorne made up this story claiming a historical basis for The Scarlet Letter ?
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