Symbols Of The Puritans In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Good Essays
Throughout the novel “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, there are many symbols that guide the reader. However the symbols are perceived differently, depending on the audience. The narrator being omniscient has contrasting views then the Puritans in the novel. Examples of these symbols are the scarlet letter, the scaffold and the sunshine.
The scarlet letter is one of the most prominent symbols in the novel. The scarlet letter which rests upon Hester’s breast is seen by the Puritans to bring ignominy because of Puritan faith. Puritan faith involves harsh punishment from those who are sinners because they are not in align with god. An example of this is when there are gossips about Hester before her entrance in chapter 2.
“A blessing
…show more content…
The “Black Man” is a prominent symbol that comes between the Puritans many times. The “Black Man” is a symbol of darkness and Satan to the reader. Many times throughout the novel certain characters are referred to as the “black man.” In chapter 10, Pearl describes the Robert Chillingworth as the black man and how her mother Hester should be careful for him. She also mentions how Chillingworth has caught Dimmesdale.
“Come away, or yonder old Black Man will catch you! He hath got hold of the minister already. Come away, mother, or he will catch you. But he cannot catch little Pearl!" (Hawthorne 126)
The narrator does not use light and darkness to symbolize good and evil. Instead the narrator uses the light and darkness to symbolize the difference between what is shown to the public and what is hidden. In chapter 12, the narrator uses darkness to hide Dimmesdale on the scaffold. Dimmesdale shouts out but no one can hear in the midst of the night.
Shida
…show more content…
In chapter 3, the Puritan gossipers try to force Hester to reveal the name of the sinner as she is being humiliated on the scaffold.
“Proceeding from the crowd about the scaffold, “Speak; and give your child a father!”(Hawthorne 65)
The narrator in the novel however uses the scaffold to symbolize the parts of the story. Each scaffold scene represents Dimmesdale and his development throughout the novel. In the first scaffold scene it is shown to be that Dimmesdale is a strong leader and is loved by everyone. In the quote it talks about how Dimmesdale’s voice makes
“So powerful seemed the minister’s appeal, that the people could not believe but that Hester Prynne would speak out the guilty name.”(Hawthorne 60)
Then in the second scaffold scene it symbolizes the second stage of Dimmesdale in which Dimmesdale is trying to face his sins but he cannot confess to the public that he is a sinner. The
Shida 3 narrator describes how Dimmesdale is going insane, as he feels the scarlet letter being burned into him.
“...while standing on the scaffold, in this vain show of expiation, Mr. Dimmesdale was overcome with a great horror of mind, as if the universe were gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart.” (Hawthorne

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    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.…

    • 789 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Symbolism plays a key role in the development of the novel, T he Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Three of the symbols are the scarlet letter, Pearl, and the Black Man. The scarlet letter is a reminder of sin and makes up Hester 's identity. Pearl doesn 't recognize Hester when she takes it off and forces her to put it back on her chest. The Black Man is a commonly used symbol in the novel, he represents sin and evil on the world.…

    • 1035 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    But then, Chillingworth attempts to deny these actions, “What evil have I done the man?” (Hawthorne, p. 143). These two contradicting quotes show how Chillingworth’s attitude changes and how he does not want his sin to be known. Therefore, this dark side brought out by Chillingworth causes the reader to think of him as the evil in the novel. Chillingworth’s wife, Hester Prynne, cheats on him with Dimmesdale, causing him to become angry and live up to the base of his name. Together, Dimmesdale and Hester have brought in to the world a little girl by the name of Pearl.…

    • 856 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The townsmen could possibly think that the scaffold is a beautiful thing because it is where someone with great power and a good reputation stands to reveal himself. The scaffold turns from a place of humiliation to a place of great redemption of a man of importance. The letter A is the most recurring symbol throughout the book. In the beginning of the book, Hester is forced to wear a red “A” on her chest as her punishment. The “A” stands for adultery, which will always remind herself and other people what she has done.…

    • 1554 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Another similarity between the two novels is that they both talk about women’s sexuality. The Scarlet Letter’s main focus is that Hester Prynne has committed adultery, leading to her public shame and humiliation. Her adulterous affair showed the sexuality that was to be repressed in society because it was immoral. In The Devil in the Shape of a Woman, the women were seen as temptresses who would succumb to their sexual desires with other men or even with the Devil himself. It seems as if Puritan society viewed women’s sexuality as repugnant because it was both a “sin” and a disgrace to see this women…

    • 1426 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The theme of sin is portrayed in different ways throughout the novel. Sin plays a huge role in the whole novel and in Hester’s life. It is the main focus of the whole book. Hester has committed one of the worst sins that Puritans can think of. She has been punished in that she has to wear the letter “A” on her chest for the rest of her life.…

    • 1753 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The Scarlet Letter “Guilt is the most painful companion of death,” said the Coco Channel. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s essay, The Scarlet Letter, this is but one of the major themes he explores in a Puritan society. For throughout his story, we see the major theme of a Puritan society, and how this society meshes with the idea of sin, guilt, and hypocrisy. Hawthorne gives us his representation on the ideas of a Puritan society by associating a number of themes within his story, making The Scarlet Letter. The reader is bombarded with these themes as they read, giving insight to Hawthorne’s opinions and beliefs.…

    • 987 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Nevertheless, he “had lifted his hands to pray, a cloud” (Hawthorne 6) has block the sky, and he cannot pray which can cause him to loss his faith quickly. Finally, the old man is final example of the symbolism. He is the future of Goodman Brown, he “very image of my old gossip, Goodman Brown, the grandfather of the silly fellow” (Hawthorne 4), good dame has misplaced the old man’s face to Brown’s grandfather. The old man is worldly and intelligence. He persuades Goodman Brown not to leave because he is also a devil, which entices Brown to stay.…

    • 900 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Nathaniel Hawthorne uses characterization to establish a tone of victimization throughout The Scarlet Letter. The people torment Hester Prynne and little Pearl through exclusion and mortification. Pearl suffers further from her stubborn and adventurous nature. Reverend Dimmesdale inflicts harsh punishments against himself out of guilt, resentment and shame for his sin. The deceptions that Boston’s naive masses believe make them the prey of ignorance.…

    • 838 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Sin In The Scarlet Letter

    • 1848 Words
    • 8 Pages

    Sin is a religious concept that is done by everyone, yet at the same time is frowned upon in society, making humanity look like a hypocritical hive mind. Many concepts and examples of sin are shown in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel “The Scarlet Letter.” Throughout the story, sin is portrayed by almost all characters in the book, yet the ones who have been the most notorious in displaying sin are Hester Prynne, Roger Chillingworth, and Reverend Dimmesdale. Hester Prynne is the main protagonist in the novel and shamed by society due to the crime of adultery that she committed with Reverend Dimmesdale. She is arrogant about her sin of adultery and is portrayed as someone who is rebellious in nature. She sins not only in the sense of her crime…

    • 1848 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Decent Essays