Characterization through Imagery and Metaphor in The Scarlet Letter

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Characterization through Imagery and Metaphor in The Scarlet Letter

Throughout his novel, The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne reveals character through the use of imagery and metaphor.

In the first Chapter of The Scarlet Letter, "The Prison-Door", the reader is immediately introduced to the people of Puritan Boston. Hawthorne begins to develop the character of the common people in order to build the mood of the story. The first sentence begins, "A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes" (Hawthorne 45). Hawthorne's use of vivid visual images and his Aaccumulation of emotionally weighted details" (Baym xii) creates sympathy for the not yet introduced character, Hester Prynne, and creates an immediate understanding of the harshness of the Puritanic code in the people. The images created give the freedom to imagine whatever entails sadness and morbidity of character for the reader; Hawthorne does not, however, allow the reader to imagine lenient or cheerful people.

The above excerpt was provided so that the student would know the focus of the essay. The complete essay begins below.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1804. After his graduation from Bowdoin College in Maine, he quickly became a well-known author of literary tales concerning early American life. Between 1825 and 1850, he developed his talent by writing short fiction, and he gained international fame for his fictional novel The Scarlet Letter in 1850 (Clendenning 118). Rufus Wilmot Griswold...

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...g and appreciation of qualities of characters, and hence, a deeper understanding of underlying motives and psyche. Intricate and methodical characterization is crucial to grasp the full meaning of a narrative.

Works Cited

Baym, Nina. Introduction. The Scarlet Letter. By Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York City: Penguin Books USA, Inc. 1986.

Clendenning, John. "Nathaniel Hawthorne." The World Book Encyclopedia. 1989 ed.

Griswold, Rufus Wilmot. "The Scarlet Letter." The Library of Literary Criticism of English and American Authors. Ed. Charles Wells Moulton. Gloucester, Massachusetts: Peter Smith Publishing, 1959. 341-371.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1986.

Smiles, Samuel. "The Scarlet Letter." The Critical Temper. Ed. Martin Tucker. New York City: Frederick Ungar Publishing Company, 1962. 266.

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