Theme Of Light And Darkness In The Scarlet Letter

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the imagery of light and darkness are portrayed through many characters that either open up to the new world or get consumed by its evil. In chapter XVIII, “A Flood of Sunshine,” Hester Prynne finds light when she takes off her letter, while Arthur Dimmesdale struggles to find this light like Hester and stays in the darkness. The comparison between these two characters shows the complexity, juxtaposition and sources of their internal strengths. Hawthorne intensifies the motif of light through a burst of sunshine, during Hester’s removal of the Scarlet Letter, strength and the complexity of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale.
After wearing the letter for seven years, Hester Prynne learns many
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Arthur feels trapped within his internal conflicts caused by the guilt in his own mind. He can’t breath or make his own decisions, “It was the exhilarating effect—upon a prisoner just escaped from the dungeon of his own heart—of breathing the wild, free atmosphere of an unredeemed, unchristianized, lawless region,” (129). The image of darkness in the dungeon affirms that the light is not as apparent to Dimmesdale as it is to Hester. Dimmesdale reveals to be a very cowardice character and can not find his own strength while trying to escape his past life of lechery. Unlike Hester, he lives with guilt and cannot be shown in the open or revealed in the external light. His soul is conflicted with guilt because the truth is enclosed inside himself and not in the open. As Arthur reflects on the past, “If in all these past seven years...I could recall one instant of peace or hope, I would yet endure, for the sake of that earnest of Heaven’s mercy. But now—since I am irrevocably doomed—wherefore should I not snatch the solace allowed to the condemned culprit before his execution?” (129). The light of the future covered in darkness continues Dimmesdale’s choice to take the consequent path that he is venturing. He only felt one glimpse of hope and heaven’s mercy, when he connected the eternal chain between Hester and Pearl on the scaffold in the square during the night; he believes that he will be put to trial and be executed if he confesses to the society and will be condemned to hell. Hester finds her own internal strength through her experiences, whereas Arthur tries to escape the dungeon in his heart, but cannot find strength in the

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