Essay on The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Essay on The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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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 of the objects have had deep impacts on how the reader interprets the characters. 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, ...


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...d adding guilt to Dimmesdale, saying he is the antagonist of the Church. Finally, Pearl is considered to be pure and the passion and will for Hester. Without Pearl, Hester would not have the same extent to live, as with Chillingworth and Dimmesdale fighting for their love. She is considered to be untainted because of her age and isolation from the other children.
Overall, there are several allegories in the Scarlet Letter that reflected great biblical and symbolic measures not clearly stated by simply reading the text. The characters, Hester, Dimmesdale, Pearl, and Chillingworth, were shown to have meanings of beyond their own actions in the town. The objects such as the scaffold and scarlet letter were influential in how the reader perceived the text. If the allegories were never presented in this way, Hawthorne’s novel will appear to be incomplete and ambiguous.

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