Scarlet Letter

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Since the beginning of time, there has been a constant struggle between good and evil. In his novel The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the power of imagery to signify that light is a sign of goodness and darkness portrays evil and the unknown. In the novel Hester Prynne is confined to the forest as a result of being deemed incompatible with Puritan society. To the townspeople, the forest is unknown and therefore seen as dark. The town is seen as light and ruled by law and religion; the forest is viewed as dark and ruled by human nature. The symbol of the light is based on how people are exposed to the truth of who they are during the daytime. The darkness is when people are able to keep secrets and hide their sinful ways from society. Hawthorne also used the contrast of light and dark to show different aspects of society and to separate truth from lies. The imagery of light and darkness pertains to how the characters come to terms with their exposed past and how they ultimately choose to no longer hide behind a shady, dark past. The symbolism of light and dark pertains to how Hester finds redemption and empowerment in her isolation. The forest conceals her existence and therefore forces her to find the hidden light beneath her adversity. After being publicly humiliated, Hester finds herself struggling with her new isolation. Hester feels alone as the scarlet letter is a symbol of public disgrace, but her time spent in the woods allows her to find herself. She realizes that being isolated from the Puritan community implies having to define herself in a new light: “In a moment, however, wisely judging that one token of her shame would but poorly serve to hide another, she took the baby on her arm, and, with a b... ... middle of paper ... ...light: “By giving me this burning torture to bear upon my breast! By sending yonder dark and terrible old man, to keep the torture always at red-heat! By bringing me hither, to die this death of triumphant ignominy before the people! Had either of these agonies been wanting, I had been lost for ever! Praised be his name!" (Hawthorne 287). The novel depicts how the characters are exposed to the truth of who they are in the daytime. The symbolism of light and darkness pertains to how Hester and Dimmesdale live a concealed existence but are later forced to come to terms with their isolation. Hester comes to terms with her sin, and the forest allows her to see herself in a new light. Dimmesdale confesses at noon, when the light is brightest and allows the truth to be exposed. The moral of the story: everything that is done in the dark will eventually come to light.

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