Hawthorne's Short Stories: The Antique Ring

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Storyboard Description

Summary of the Story of the Antique Ring

Storyboard Text

  • Exposition
  • "The Countess of Shrewsbury paid... a visit, and found him... toying childishly with a ring." (401)
  • "It needs only one thing to make it perfect..." (399)
  • Rising Action
  • "I will be that friend... Trust this precious ring with me. This very night the queen's eye shall rest upon it... (405) "To-morrow morning look for the result of my intercession." (406)
  • "[It] had once been the property of Merlin, the British wizard, who gave it to the lady of his love." (402)
  • Conflict
  • The countess died with a dark red circle upon her breast from the ring.
  • "Alas, the fatal ring! When shall its dark secret be discovered, and the doom of ill, inherited from one possessor to another, be finally revoked?" (410)
  • One of the sergeants during Cromwell's time gained possession of the ring, but was slain in battle soon after.
  • A man named Mr. Edward Caryl, presents to his betrothed lover, Clara Pemberton, an antique diamond ring. Clara, however, tells him it is missing one thing⏤ a story behind it. So Edward, a rising writer, decides to create a story for her. Clara invites her friends over and Edward begins telling the story he created... "The Legend," as the story is called, begins with the Earl of Essex during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. His death warrant had been read to him. On the night before his execution, the Countess of Shrewsbury paid him a visit, and finds him holding a diamond ring, glittering with a tinge of red.
  • Climax
  • "How is this? ... Why, upon my word, this seems to be a real diamond, and of the purest water. Whence could it have come? (409)
  • "I'll bestow ten dollars from my own pocket, and may Heaven's blessing go along with it. But look! what do you call this?" (409)
  • The Countess is actually here to seek revenge for a past deed, but seeing the Earl, she asks what is so special about the ring. He says, the Queen, his royal mistress, gave the heirloom to him and tells of a legend behind it. Made by Merlin, the wizard, the ring contained a spirit, bound only to do good as long as the ring was a pledge of love and faith. It was given to his lady love, but she murdered him, and it lost its virtue. The Earl explains how it is similarly true for him, and that his fate has been determined by the ring. He then tells the countess that it is his last hope to live. The countess agrees to take the ring to the queen to try and free him.
  • Falling Action
  • JEWELRY SHOP
  • and Antiques
  • However, the countess betrays this trust and keeps the ring. The queen never sees it until the countess is on her deathbed. She then calls for the queen and tells her what happened. She dies and is buried with the ring upon her breast, where it had imprinted a dark red circle. Years later, Cromwell's soldiers dig up the Shrewsbury vaults and stole all the valuables, including the antique ring. The ring passes on from all different types of people, from women to men, men to men, and women to women, all unable to make a faithful and truthful vow and as a result, leading to evil and their deaths. Here the conflict arises between man vs. man: the constant lack of trust and love between people, the human heart's lack of honesty or pure love and sincerity.
  • Resolution
  • "A gay cavalier, who forthwith pawned it... expended the money in liquor, which speedily brought him to the grave." (407)
  • "Believe me, whatever the world may say of the story, I prize it far above the diamond which enkindled your imagination." (410)
  • However, as time passes, a certain object appears in the church across the Atlantic from England in America. As the church contributions are made, the Deacon Trott brags about his accumulated treasure in stark contrast to the Deacon Tilton's, whose contributions are from the poorer class of people. While the Deacon Trott has a pile of silver, the Deacon Tilton is left with a pile of copper and a counterfeit banknote. However, something comes up from the box in a red flash of light⏤ it is the same antique ring given by Queen Elizabeth to the Earl of Essex, but now it is pure and twinkling.
  • "Under the copper mountain, which it had cost them so much toil to remove, lay an antique ring! It was enriched with a diamond, which... began to twinkle and glimmer, emitting the whitest and purest lustre that could possibly be conceived. It was as brilliant as if some magician had condensed the brightest star in heaven into a compass fit to be set in a ring, for a lady's delicate finger." (409)
  • Trott
  • Tilton
  • And now returning to the present reality, Mr. Edward Caryl wraps up his legend... "It has been our good luck to recover a portion of that history. After transmitting misfortune from one possessor to another... [the] ring was finally thrown into the contribution-box of a New England church. The two deacons deposited it in the glass case of a fashionable jeweller, of whom it was purchased by the humble rehearser of this legend, in the hope that it may be allowed to sparkle on a fair lady's finger." (410)
  • "Purified from the foul fiend, so long its inhabitant, by a deed of unostentatious charity... [is] now the symbol of faithful and devoted love, the gentle bosom of its new possessor need fear no sorrow from its influence." (410)
  • Hey! That's me! :)
  • Clara's friends, the "kind and generous auditors" all exclaim in positive comments at the end of Edward's story. Clara asks what the moral that the ring embodies is. The ring, Edward explains, symbolizes the human heart, and the Evil Spirit that occupied it and gave it its tinge of red is Falsehood, which causes problems in this world. Clara kindly tells him she values this story even more than the diamond ring itself.
  • "Very pretty!" (410)
  • "What imagination! What pathos!" (410)
  • "Beautiful! How original!!" (410)
  • THE END
  • "How sweetly written!" (410)
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