Blog #7

O’Gorman’s reading of In the Blood, was in many ways similar to my own. Having read The Scarlet Letter, the reworking of the novel was apparent and, in recreating a piece of literary work by offering a more contemporary issues of societal problems, Parks is able to “undermine those ideals that have come to be associated with literary canons – specifically by destabilizing dominant ideologies and emphasizing a productive moral ambiguity.” Like O’Gorman, I found the representation of Hester in the play (or perhaps rather a re-representation) to be one of the “most striking manipulations.” In the Blood’s Hester, though still embodying many of the same (if not similar) effects society instills upon those who are marginalized as the original Hester, is ethnically different and begins the play already a marginalized character. She is, from the beginning, a person whom society looks down upon and although there is sympathy for her character, her murdering of her eldest son signals that there is a line between those in poverty and those who are “better.” Even in The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne’s Hester only “dare[s] to briefly contemplate [murdering her child].” Even while the Reverend D and Dimmesdale, are the character equivalent of each other, they differ in that Hawthorne’s is far more victimized and weaker and Park’s is explicitly able to “intersect with and interrogate historical conflations of blackness, disadvantage and poverty. He finds Hester’s ‘suffering’ to be ‘an enormous turn-on’. Yet, he concludes by expressing hatred for her hunger.”
However, O’Gorman argues that it is these discontinuities between the two texts (or text and play) which allow for and “help to productively reorient the politics of the source text towards more immediate concerns involving race, gender, and constructions of crime.” I agree that by adapting the work to fit a more modern audience, the ideological concerns regarding “labeling, public shaming and social hypocrisy” that arise in The Scarlet Letter are better able to resonate with the contemporary readers/audience.