“Scarlet” (pg 245)

Urban dictionary defines the word scarlet as an offense or wicked; heinous. Women who are titled scarlets are those viewed as immoral due to their high number of sex partner: prostitutes, sluts or whores.

The word scarlet was repeated numerous times when Lizzie Hazeldean was discovered leaving the hotel with Henry Prest, a married man. The group in the window was shocked to see Lizzie exiting the building but was not necessarily surprised by whom she was exiting with. The narrator took note of the frightened expression on their faces but was struck deeply by the fact that “not one of them looked surprised”(244)  as if a suspicion they had was suddenly confirmed.

The color scarlet has been linked to the 1850 novel, The Scarlet Letter. In this novel, the main character a woman, Hester Prynne, was labeled a scarlet because she stepped out of her marriage and bared a child for another man. As punishment, she was to stand in the middle of the town holding her bastard daughter. In the article, The Gender of Sexuality, Schwartz, and Rutter recalls Prynee was marked with “the scarlet letter “A” for her nonmarital, “adulterous sexual activities” (63). Women like Hester and Lizzie are often punished by disapproval or social isolation where the men are often praised for being quote on quote the man.

In 2018, women are often slut-shamed while the man gets a slap on the wrist. Individuals such as Amber Rose has created a transnational movement to end the oppression and blame of sexually active women. This movement is a fight towards feminism and one step closer to ending gender inequalities.

In a religious viewpoint, most religions believe there is an afterlife, and where one goes is based on how a person lived on earth: if a person lived a pure righteous life, they were to go to heave whereas the person who lived a sinful life was to go to hell. Hell is usually described as a demon fill place with an everlasting fire. Interesting enough, the novella Old New York, opens up with the Fifth Avenue hotel: a place where Lizzie and Henry were committing a sin, caught on fire. The flame between Lizzie who is a married woman and Henry were dangerous. They lived in a society were individuals held themselves on a pedestal and looked down on those who didn’t fit in their brackets. When it was discovered that Lizzie and Henry were committing a sin, the ladies were not concerned with the possible dangers that could arise from it, instead, they were amused and entertained.


Schwartz Pepper, RutterVirginia The Gender of Sexuality  Exploring Sexual Possibilities. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Nov 26, 2011 -288 pages