Theme Of Allegory In The Scarlet Letter

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From the scaffold representing unity to the scarlet letter frightening away townspeople, there are numerous allegories in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. An allegory, by definition, is a symbolic representation, which has been seen to correspond with the plot of the story. Hawthorne bestowed all of the characters as allegories themselves, from the devil to Adam and Eve. Even more so, the commonality items of the novel represent a deeper meaning that when evoked to the reader, the allegory can pose a profound image of idealism not found from reading the text itself. Hawthorne portrays both characters and objects as allegories that serve as substantial representations to the deeper understanding of the plot. Overall, the allegories…show more content…
The scaffold served its purpose in all three scenes it was shown: to unite and identify the characters. In the first scene, Hester is shown publically dismayed on top of the scaffold, awaiting her fate. She stated that “she saw her father’s face… her mother’s too…there she beheld another countenance of a man well stricken in years, a pale, thin, scholar-like visage with eyes dim and bleared by the lamplight that had swerved them to pore over many heavy books.” (Hawthorne 15) Hester has noticed this disfigured man that was very vividly described. He was “well stricken in years” which indicated he was old, and had eyes that indicated he read many novels. This character will later be indicated to be Chillingworth, whose own demeanor reflects his own allegory of evil. A few lines down, Dimmesdale is introduced and described. “Next rose before her, in memory’s picture-gallery, the intricate and narrow though fares, the tall, gray houses, the huge cathedrals, and the public buildings, ancient in date and quaint in architecture…” (Hawthorne 15-16) Hester…show more content…
The forest scene characterized a sense of rejuvenation from the brittle lifestyle Hester faced in the town. As the town represented oppression, the forest represented its antithesis, a laissez faire community. The forest is personified with personifications such as “sudden smile of heaven, forth burst the sunshine, poring a very flood into the obscure forest, gladdening each green leaf.” (Hawthorne 171) This indicates the forest as a tranquil community where Hester actually had the courage to take off the scarlet letter. The scarlet letter itself was one of the only allegories in the story that was dynamic however. During the onset of the novel, Hester was shunned from the community as this prostitute that was viewed as the epitome of the Devil’s work. By the middle of the plot, “Hester Prynne did not now occupy precisely the same position in which we beheld her during the earlier periods of her disgrace. Her mother… had long been a familiar object to the townspeople.” (Hawthorne 126) Her scarlet letter is later represented as “Hatred, by a gradual and quiet process, will even be transformed to love.” (126) Hester is slowly becoming a martyr that symbolized the absolute wrongdoings of society. She is to the point that the townspeople started to feel pity for her and wanted her to remove the scarlet letter. Even until the end, the scarlet letter is even engraved on her grave to serve as a legacy for generations
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