Symbolism Of Symbolism In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

Dan Țaca
Professor D.Benea
American Literature
January 17, 2016

Uncertain Significance(s).Hawthorne’s Symbols are Richly Ambiguous-the Greatest Red Herring in His Writing.
N. Hawthorne’s works (even those few works whose surroundings and action are removed from American reality) are inextricably linked to New England where the writer continuously spent fifty out of sixty years of his life.
The historical past of the country that worried all American romantics, for Hawthorne, became the New England Puritanism of the seventeenth century (as for Irving - the life of Dutch settlers and for Cooper the frontier and the heroic War of Independence). On this basis, the action unfolds in the novel “The Scarlet Letter” which is the object of our analysis.
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From the very first pages of the novel, Hester manifests herself as a vivid and complex personality, revealed at that time when the heroine ,deliberately concealing her sin, trims the embroidery. Here the rich red colour is symbolic, which is constant and evident on the pages of the novel. Boston townsfolk see this colour as an omen of suffering of the sinned woman, and believe that the mark is forged in the furnace of hell. For Hester, the colour red represents not only pain but also passionate love. From the beginning ,Hester secretly opposes Puritan society but despite the apparent discrepancy between the spiritual and the internal rebellion, the musty philistine society wins. She gradually wins due to her talent and labour, so the interpretation of the mark in sense of “adulteress” the majority of parishioners do not dare sign and decrypt as the beginning of the word “able”. Even this interpretation of the artistic symbol is not exhausted. Hester opposes society and is always located in a large distance from it, being perceived as a recluse. Therefore, by the end of the novel, many do not even notice its presence and start seeing her as an inactive person. The bright personality remains unnoticed in the grey crowd, we can …show more content…
For the heroine, the letter receives an ambiguous interpretation as well as for the parishioners.In the beginning of the novel, the letter is a symbol of shame. It is just a reminder of adultery and moreover found the secret vision. Now she see not only the evident sin in the passers-by but also the one hidden in their hearts.
As has been already noted, the character of Hester is not so simple, so the logic of the evolution dictates her personality and dictates a change to the symbol of “shame”. Hester is more clearly aware that the mark is also her greatest salvation in life, because through the peculiar protrusion of her sin, she found harmony with the world. It is on this interpretation Hawthorne concentrates his attention.
The scarlet letter taught Hester to understand the problem of sin and more importantly, to be aware of the ambivalence of human opinions about her. She deeply understood that society in general is not always fair and doesn’t always judge by standards; and this knowledge stunned and somehow restructured her. Here the conversation she held with Roger is essential,where she sincerely and with anguish tries to prove to her husband that his terrible revenge and obsession with the idea of punishment-it is a sin far more grave. So now, the mark becomes for Hester not a symbol of redemption but a kind of secret knowledge. The tendency of her fate

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