Symbolism In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Many authors use symbolism to portray themes throughout a novel. This occurred in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book, The Scarlet Letter. The book took place during the Puritan time period which lasted from the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries. The Scarlet Letter is about the main character, Hester Prynne, who commited the crime of adultery. She was publicly shame punished by the community for the felony which she was involved in. The symbols used in this novel were crucial in reinforcing the central ideas of the text, especially in chapter seven. This chapter describes Hester’s trip to the governor’s house with her young daughter. Accordingly, In the book, Hawthorne used symbols such as the scarlet letter and the children playing to reveal that …show more content…
This scarlet letter specifically symbolized elements such as sin, adultery, and shame. In chapter seven, Hawthorne wrote, “ ...and she saw that, owing to the peculiar effect of this convex mirror, the scarlet letter was represented in exaggerated and gigantic proportions, so as to be greatly the most prominent feature of her appearance” (Hawthorne 97). The diction used by Hawthorne suggests that he has a negative attitude towards the Puritans and their views. Specific words that demonstrate this are “gigantic,” and “exaggerated.” They hinted that Hester’s punishment was unnecessary and extraneous. This ties along with the overall theme of how the Puritans were highly intolerant of people who went against God and their rules. Hawthorne highlighted that claim efficiently through the symbol of the scarlet letter in chapter seven. He also added, “That look of naughty merriment was likewise reflected in that mirror, with so much breadth and intensity of effect, that it made Hester Prynne feel as if it could not be the image of her own child…” (Hawthorne 97). The letter represented something so terrible, according to the Puritans, that Hester had trouble accepting it. Hester had to wear the letter on her clothes because of the strong religious beliefs of her society. Correspondingly, this symbol was to teach Hester that her sin was detrimental …show more content…
The symbolism illustrated Nathaniel Hawthorne’s negative and unfavorable opinions about the Puritan culture. Moreover, the usage by Hawthorne in chapter seven was effective in the sense that it enhanced the deeper meaning behind the fictional

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