Essay on The Use of Mirrors in The Scarlet Letter

Essay on The Use of Mirrors in The Scarlet Letter

Length: 1187 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview



The Use of Mirrors in The Scarlet Letter

 

"Life is for each man," states Eugene O'Neill, "a solitary cell whose walls are mirrors." In other words, one can fool himself, but a mirror reflects only the truth. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, mirrors are used as a literary device to convey a message. Dimmesdale, Chillingworth, Hester, and Pearl each judge themselves with mirrors.  Through the use of mirrors, The Scarlet Letter provides an insight into the faults, or lack thereof, of the four main characters.

 

Arthur Dimmesdale's mirror acts as a window into his sin-obsessed mind. Dimmesdale practices secret vigils, such as whipping himself in front of a mirror, as an act of penance. After Hester's humiliation on the scaffold, Dimmesdale becomes obsessed with absolving himself of the sin, while not admitting the sin to others. Thus, he begins a cycle of grief and sorrow.  Much to the satisfaction of Roger Chillingworth, Dimmesdale could "torture, but could not purify, himself." To everyone else, from his fellow priests to the church-going citizens, he could lead a false life.  Yet, when he looks into a mirror, Dimmesdale sees only the sin he committed with Hester. In fact, as the reader learns at the end of the book, Dimmesdale takes the guilt of his ignominy to the point where he carves an A into himself. His mirror punishment becomes a ritual with a bloody scourge kept under lock and key in a secret closet. The only one to gain satisfaction from the self-inflicted wounds is Chillingworth.  When Dimmesdale views the reflection of himself in a parallel universe, his saint-like ways cause his own self-tormented downfall. Dimmesdale could have looked into a mirror without magnifyin...


... middle of paper ...


...what one wants to see, but a reflection of what actually is there. A man can fool anyone, including himself, until, through his own eyes, he finds a reflection of his true self.

 

 

Proffesors Comments:  You composed a fine paper, so most of my effort has been spent in suggesting style improvements. The opening is strong, the development logical and consistent, the examples well chosen.

 The ending is the weakest part of the paper. You didn't need the title; "Hawthorne uses..." would start the paragraph just fine. You didn't need the second sentence, since your entire paper did just that, and convincingly. A comment about Pearl here is welcome, since your paper pointed toward her. The last two sentences are quite wonderful. Think of a garden -- pull any weeds and the flowers look even more beautiful. I would weed your closing paragraph.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

- ... The use of symbolism is amazing and all the Walnut Eagles reading this book would agree that everything in the book is because of a reason, whether small or large. The Scarlet Letter ‘A’ The title ‘The Scarlet Letter’ evolves from a depiction of shame and sin to an embodiment of power and strength. Originally, the ‘A’ stands for ‘Adulterer’ but Hester’s passion gives it a new meaning, ‘Able.’ Hester becomes ‘able’ when she becomes a loving mother and establishes a personal as well as public identity of her own....   [tags: colors, painting, images]

Strong Essays
676 words (1.9 pages)

Essay on the Use of Chiaroscuro in The Scarlet Letter

- Use of Chiaroscuro in The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne the author of The Scarlet Letter uses the literary device of chiaroscuro to effectively develop his characters. Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1804 to a prominent family. His father passed away on a voyage when he was four years old. His relatives recognized his talent, and they helped pay his way to Bowdoin College. Hawthorne and his classmates became the most prominent people in America at that time. He had many strong ties with important people from attending Bowdoin, such as: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Franklin Pierce....   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Strong Essays
748 words (2.1 pages)

The Effective Use of Symbols in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

- The Effective Use of Symbols in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Webster defined "symbol" with these words: "Something concrete that represents or suggests another thing that cannot in itself be pictured." This concept has been particularly applied to literature and used by writers throughout history. Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter uses multitudes of symbols in such a manner. One of the most prominent, and most complicated, of such symbols is the scarlet letter "A". The scarlet letter "A" is a symbol of a daughter's connection to her mother, isolation, and the devil and its associations....   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Strong Essays
702 words (2 pages)

The Use of Symbols in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Essay

- The Use of Symbols in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Throughout the novel, The Scarlet Letter, the author, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses a few key symbols to represent major themes in the book. The most obvious and well known, as it is in the title, is the scarlet letter Hester is forced to wear. Three other symbols are the scaffold, the sun, and the forest. To begin with, the most important and influential symbol in the entire book is the infamous scarlet letter, hence the title, The Scarlet Letter....   [tags: Scarlet Letter Essays]

Strong Essays
1255 words (3.6 pages)

Use of Symbols and Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

- Use of Symbols in The Scarlet Letter       In many stories, symbols included by the author add deeper meaning.  Nathaniel Hawthorne is one author who mastered the skill of using symbols effectively.  The Scarlet Letter is regarded as a "symbolic masterpiece" due to Hawthorne's exceptional use of the scarlet letter, the setting, and Pearl as symbols.   One of the main symbols of the novel is the basis for the title of the novel itself.  Hester Prynne's scarlet letter is attached to her dress, and appears "in fine red cloth surrounded with an elaborate embroidery with fantastic flourishes of gold thread" (Hawthorne 60).  The letter is said to have "the effect of a spell, taking h...   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Strong Essays
1224 words (3.5 pages)

The Symbolic Use of Nature in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Essay

- The Symbolic Use of Nature in The Scarlet Letter       In Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic The Scarlet Letter, nature plays a very important and symbolic role.  Hawthorne uses nature to convey the mood of a scene, to describe characters, and to link the natural elements with human nature.  Many of the passages that have to do with nature accomplish more than one of these ideas.  All throughout the book, nature is incorporated into the story line. The deep symbolism conveyed by certain aspects of nature helps the reader gain a deeper understanding of the plight and inner emotions of the characters in the novel....   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Strong Essays
1364 words (3.9 pages)

Use of Romanticism in Development of Characters in The Scarlet Letter Essay

- Use of Romanticism in Development of Characters in The Scarlet Letter        In Hawthorne's revered novel The Scarlet Letter, the use of Romanticism plays an important role in the development of his characters. He effectively demonstrates individualism in Hester to further our understanding of the difficulties of living in the stern, joyless world of Puritan New England.  It is all gloom and doom.  If the sun ever shines, one could hardly notice.  The entire place seems to be shrouded in black.  The people of this society were stern, and repressed natural human impulses and emotions than any society before or since.  But for this reason specifically, emotions began bubbling and ev...   [tags: Scarlet Letter Hawthorne essays]

Strong Essays
2104 words (6 pages)

Impure Puritans in The Scarlet Letter Essay

- Impure Puritans in The Scarlet Letter In a world where society is disorganized, unhappy, and chaotic, it can be extremely difficult to provide an honest, and just law system. As a result, in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, people use their religion (Puritan), as judge, jury, and executioner. For some people, it can be very troublesome to live a normal life when you are surrounded by biased and chauvinistic men and women. In this story, Hester Prynne is a victim of her religion, and her fellow townsfolk....   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Free Essays
779 words (2.2 pages)

Symbols and Symbolism Essay - Use of Symbols in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

- Use of Symbols in The Scarlet Letter In World Book Dictionary, a symbol is defined as something that stands for or represents something else, especially an idea, quality, or condition. Symbols can be objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent ideas or concepts. In the novel The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, there are many symbols that are throughout the novel. While symbols can be created, such created symbols are subjective and must be given meaning within their context and because the context is different among individuals and societies and can vary over time....   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Strong Essays
850 words (2.4 pages)

Symbols and Symbolism - The Letter A in The Scarlet Letter Essay

- Symbolism of the Scarlet Letter           Authors sometimes use symbols in their novels to represent different objects, people or ideas.  One example is the S on Superman's uniform, which symbolizes him being supper.  In "The Scarlet Letter" Nathaniel Hawthorne creates the symbolism of the letter "A" to have different meanings.  As the novel unfolds, the meanings of the letter "A" on Hester Prynne's bosom changes, from adultery to able to angel.           In the beginning of the novel, Hawthorne describes the letter "A" that lies on Hester's bosom as a symbol of adultery.  Hester is made to wear the letter "A" once the town's people see, that she committed adultery...   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Free Essays
621 words (1.8 pages)