Symbols In The Scarlet Letter

Superior Essays
Symbolism is a literary device where authors use different things, known as symbols to represent ideas in their writing. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, almost every important person, place, or item is a symbolism for an idea. Hawthorne uses an impressive amount of symbolism and has the ability to essentially create the novel’s story, moral, and theme through this symbolism. Some of the symbolism in the book is simple, and shallow such as sunshine and light symbolizing truth and redemption; however, there are other symbols that stand for much more intricate, complex, and deep ideas. Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth, and Pearl are not only three main characters in The Scarlet Letter, they are three major symbols, for three …show more content…
Chillingworth acts as Dimmesdale’s personal physician, but he is also known by the reader to be Hester’s husband who came from England. Chillingworth picked up his name after hearing of Hester’s sin. The first clue from Hawthorne that Chillingworth acts as an important symbol is during the conversation between Hester and Chillingworth in the jail cell. Chillingworth demands to know the sinners name, but Hester refuses to tell him. He explains to her that he will find him, but assures her to “fear not for him! Think not that I shall interfere with Heaven’s own method of retribution, or, to my own loss, betray him to the gripe of human law….Let him hide himself in outward honor, if he may!”(Hawthorne 85). This conversation shows two things; first it reveals that Chillingworth wants revenge on the unknown sinner and will not stop until he is found, and it foreshadows Chillingworth’s actions for the rest of the novel and the way in which Dimmesdale will get his revenge. After this scene, it is very clear that Chillingworth symbolizes revenge and its destructive nature. Chillingworth works his way up into the upper class, surrounding himself with Dimmesdale, Governor Bellingham, and Reverend Wilson after arriving at Boston. Eventually he insists on becoming Dimmesdale’s in home physician, after he detects guilt coming from the man. After many attempts and conversations, …show more content…
Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth and Pearl are three important characters that double as important symbols. Dimmesdale symbolizes secret sin and the guilt that follows, Chillingworth symbolizes revenge and its destructive nature, and Pearl symbolizes the innocent result of sin as well as a push for the confession of sin. All three of these main characters help the plot development and the formation of the novels theme and morals as

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    Symbolism comes in many forms, whether through objects, events, environments, or actions. Through symbolism, a single thing can have a variety of meanings. In the 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter, author Nathaniel Hawthorne creates symbolism through names. Hester Prynne, Pearl, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth all have names that reflect who they are. Hawthorne uses the literary element of symbolism in the names of his characters to enhance the story and give insight into their personalities.…

    • 757 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    While growing up, Pearl had always seen the letter and saw it as a part of her mother. This symbolizes the insignificance of the cities and community's judgment and punishment. Pearl is a gift from God, but also a curse because she is a constant reminder to Hester and Dimmesdale of their sin. Pearl is not only a vital character in the book, but a great symbol. Ever since Pearl was a toddler, she always had a strange way of thinking and acting.…

    • 680 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    This symbolism also reveals the theme of appearance versus reality as a way to accentuate the symbolism of the character’s names. Hawthorne also gives these names to his characters in order to develop the symbolism of other scenes in The Scarlet Letter. As a result, many interpretations of the scenes and plot are provided to illustrate the difference between the points of views present in the novel. Each major character’s name in Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter presents various ideas that contribute to the overall understanding of the symbols and…

    • 1034 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Decent Essays

    This paragraph within the introduction of “The Scarlet Letter” is essential for the establishment of the plot. In this paragraph, the author identifies one of the key symbols within the story: the scarlet letter A that Hester Prynne wears upon her bosom. Assuming that this paragraph was not included within the Custom House Introductory, the reader would not be able to identify the inspiration behind “The Scarlet Letter”. Additionally, the reader would not understand the reason behind creating a story based around something as arbitrary as a red letter A. Even though this paragraph creates a basic understanding as to the origin of the scarlet letter, some information is still left out.…

    • 346 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Improved Essays

    She interprets to be an evil-devilish child, along with being very sneaky and smarter than she appears. Hawthorne writes, “An imp of evil; emblem and product of sin,” (90), which gives the impression, to the reader, that Pearl symbolizes evil in The Scarlet Letter. Also, no one realizes that Dimmesdale is Pearl’s father, other than Pearl herself, in fact is strange considering she is a seven year old. She is smarter than she seems.…

    • 907 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Soon, Chillingworth's face has begins to have an evil look. The townspeople begin to believe that Chillingworth is the Devil who has come to take Dimmesdale’s soul. “This purpose once effected, new interests would immediately spring up, and likewise a new purpose; dark, it is true, if not guilty, but of force enough to engage the full strength of his faculties” (Hawthorne 108). This supports the critic’s position that Chillingworth is motivated to be a vigilante because he has a dark purpose to go and torture Dimmesdale rather than let the court punish Dimmesdale.…

    • 475 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Symbols are an important way that authors can convey their message to the reader. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hawthorne uses dark and light to highlight important parts of the story. In this novel, dark symbolizes both truth and lies and unhappiness. Light symbolizes both truth and lies and happiness. These to symbols together bring the story to a better fluidity and helps the reader understand Hester’s life.…

    • 474 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Nathaniel Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter is full of symbolism. Every item has a story in it. He didn’t just throw in a rose because they’re his favorite flower. He put thought and meaning into every word in the book. Hawthorne’s symbolism may be over discussed in various english classes, but it for good reason.…

    • 1103 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    As years pass and Chillingworth punishes and tears down Dimmesdale repeatedly, Chillingworth's health grows weaker and his appearance more repulsive. As further more years pass, Chillingworth passes away. The desire to see Dimmesdale’s demise consumed Chillingworth alive. Hawthorne demonstrates the deterioration of Roger Chillingworth’s mind and body, to illustrate that revenge can not only damage another person’s mind and health, but can damage one’s own mind and health as…

    • 942 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The Scarlet letter was one of the most recognizable uses of symbolism in a novel over the last two centuries. The letter “A” has been given more than one meaning in the book. As a reader delves deeper into the book, “adultery, angel, and able” are all the symbols of “A” that the people associate the scarlet letter with. The main character Hester Prynne, a Puritan, married woman, commits adultery with a very ironic figure, a pastor.…

    • 490 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Symbolism Scarlet Letter

    • 950 Words
    • 4 Pages

    The most important symbol is scarlet letter itself. It represents the various layers of meaning that Hawthorne wants to convey through the predicament of Hester Prynne. Hawthorne never truly defines what the symbol stands for. It is often referred to as “the mark”, “a certain token”, “the letter A”, “the scarlet letter”, “the red letter” and “the ignominious letter”. The symbolism of the heart assumes another huge part in The Scarlet Letter.…

    • 950 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    “... and wherefore is she set up to public shame?” (Hawthorne, p. 54). A symbol in literature means a representation of an object that stands for something that is not material. As seen in many works of literature, a place or setting can often have a symbolic meaning. The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, uses symbolism to show the importance of settings, objects, and characters in the novel.…

    • 831 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, contains a heavy amount of symbolism. One symbol that is most prominent is the symbol of nature. First, we see the sunshine showing sin for Hester, and purity for Pearl.…

    • 1004 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    (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
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Symbols can be used in any type of literary text. Whether it is a short poem, or a novel or an epic, symbol can be used throughout to show a deeper meaning within the text. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter, is no different. Throughout the novel, Hawthorne uses a multitude of various symbol to allow the reader to interpret many different aspects of the novel in different ways. Hawthorne’s brilliance in the use of symbol even extends into the names of his characters, such as Dimmesdale and Chillingworth.…

    • 1169 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays