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The dissection of symbolisms in the scarlet letter by nathaniel hawthorne

Literary Terms Symbolism and Imagery in The Scarlet Letter The scarlet letter is a Romance which has constant interaction between the real and the imaginative.

  • Predominant colors are black and gray, and the gloom of the community is omnipresent;
  • The context determines the meaning;
  • As a symbol, he represents the secret sinner who fights the good fight in his soul and eventually wins.

The Scarlet Letter The most important symbol is scarlet letter itself. It represents the various layers of meaning that Hawthorne wishes to convey through the plight of Hester Prynne. But the dominating implications of the letter Scarlet A remains a badge of shame for Hester that she is doomed to wear for the rest of her days to come because she has had a child out of wedlock.

Hawthorne has shown great skill in handling the symbol A in the novel. He never tells in many words what the symbols stands for. Neither Hester nor the reader is allowed to forget it. It comes to have an evil or sinister significance for Hester. She is perpetually and keenly aware of the stigma on bosom. It is symbolic of the sin that she has committed and even though she does not at any stage think herself to be a sinner, it constantly reinforces the Puritan belief in the Original Sin, the breaking of the Seventh Commandment, to the community.

Hester is treated as a social outcast and the scarlet letter makes her feel a burning sensation on her bosom.

Symbolism in the scarlet letter

Pearl is delighted to see the magnified reflection, which greatly distresses Hester who feels that it is not her own child but an imp making fun of her. Pearl of courseis the living embodiment of the scarlet letter. It has a strange fascination for her. She cannot see her mother without the scarlet letter.

The Scarlet Letter

Only when Hester picks it up and places it on her bosom that Pearl is mollified. Pearl keeps pestering her mother about the meaning and significance of the symbol, thus, torturing her with incessant reminders of her moral trespass.

The imagery of the heart plays another significant role in The Scarlet Letter. Arthur Dimmesdale is always seen with his hand over his heart.

It is a symbol of remorse in the minister and a mark of punishment for Hester. But to the townspeople, it stands for Angel which good Governor Winthrop has become after his death.

Symbolism and Imagery in The Scarlet Letter

It points to her independent character. Although her skill at needle work is greatly admired and is always in demand, Hester is not commissioned to embroider even a single wedding dress. Here needle work functions as a symbol, indicative of the attitude of the puritan settlers towards sin, guilt and penitence.

The Scarlet Letter Symbol

The exclusion of her needle from embroidering a wedding dress symbolizes the harshness of the Puritan attitude. Another symbol employed in the novel is the brook flowing with a sad murmuring sound. It seems to be burdened with many sorrows, a reminder of her own sorrows to Hester. To Dimmesdale, it is a symbol of the estrangement between Hester and Pearl. The dark forest, too, has a symbolic meaning.

  1. Hester probably considers pearl is a kind of the novel.
  2. At best, his public piety is a disdainful act when he worries that his congregation will see his features in Pearl's face. Overlook obscure details due tomorrow typed for the scarlet letter.
  3. Hawthorne's ability to introduce these symbols and change them through the context of his story is but one of the reasons The Scarlet Letter is considered his masterpiece and a peerless example of the romance novel. In her final years, "the scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the world's scorn and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe, yet with reverence, too.

It is a place where one goes morally astray. Here the act of adultery has taken place and here the two lovers meet once again and profess their love for each other, with Hester throwing away the stigma of the scarlet letter and letting loose her hair form the tight hold of her cap. However, the forest also stands for natural innocence.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

The scaffold which in the beginning of the tale, is the place where Hester faces the hostility of the crowd, plays a significant role in The Scarlet Letter. It subsequently becomes a place for expiation for the minister — first on the ark night of the vigil and later when he climbs it to make a public confession of his guilt. Reading on The Scarlet Letter.