Essay PreviewMore ↓
Elements of Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter
200 Words of Teacher’s Praise and Comments Nathaniel Hawthorne uses several literary devices to give his novel The Scarlet Letter depth. One of these devices is symbolism. Hawthorne utilizes symbolism to convey certain points or themes to the reader by using ordinary objects. Three of the elements he uses as symbols are the settings of the Puritan town and the forest and weather.
The first of the two main settings is the Puritan town that includes the prison and the scaffold. The Puritan law is based on their religion. The town maintains a sense of strict moral values and disciplinary measures in accordance with the Puritan religion. Therefore, the town stands for lawfulness and purity. It serves as a contrast to Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter. The prison that the city was built around serves as a symbol as well. It represents guilt and the human tendency to sin, and it also symbolizes penance. Hester is forced to spend time in jail for committing the sin of adultery, and it is the starting point of Hester’s trek of shame to the scaffold in the market place. The scaffold itself is another symbol Hawthorne uses. Like the prison, it also symbolizes sin and guilt. “The very ideal of ignominy was embodied and made manifest in this contrivance of wood and iron” (60). It provides the setting of several important scenes in the novel. It is where Hester is forced to stand for three hours as punishment, where Dimmesdale, Pearl, and Hester stand in the night, and where Dimmesdale reveals himself and dies. It is also a symbol of truth because Dimmesdale’s great revelation occurred there.
The second setting is the forest just outside of the town. It proves to be a kind of dramatic foil to the idealistic Puritan society. The Puritans maintain a community that thrives on purity and lack of sin. The forest, on the other hand, is a symbol of lawlessness and desecration. It is shrouded in mystery and retains a dark and foreboding air. The Puritans abhor the forest because it stands as a perfect example of evil. However, the witches that live in the town view it very differently. They appreciate the anonymity the forest provides them. Thus they are free to pay homage to the Black Man in secret. Their presence reiterates the fact that the forest is a symbol of darkness.
How to Cite this Page
"Elements of Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter." 123HelpMe.com. 16 Aug 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Nathaniel Hawthorne. The name strikes fear in the hearts of high school students everywhere because Hawthorne's 'wordy' novels, especially his 1849 The Scarlet Letter, have been at the top of English classes' required reading lists for years and will continue to be for years to come. In general, students have grown accustomed to superficial analyses of books, which encompasses reading and regurgitating 'literary facts' on multiple choice tests. However, when reading engaging, well-written, stylistic and ambiguous novels, such as The Scarlet Letter, one must go deeper and actually examine the novel and the elements that the author so effectively uses.... [tags: Free Scarlet Letter Essays]
1010 words (2.9 pages)
- Symbolism of the Rose Bush in The Scarlet Letter "On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter 'A'" (51). That one simple letter set into the bodice of a young woman named Hester Prynne, tells a story of heartache, pride, strength and triumph in the book elegantly written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (1850). Hawthorne's novel provides many types of symbolism. One of such is the symbolism of a red rose bush growing outside the gates of the town prison.... [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]
1116 words (3.2 pages)
- The Power of the Symbol in The Scarlet Letter All classic literature uses symbolism in one way or another. Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter is no different. The very basis of every character, their personal appearance and way they act revolves around one thing, the Scarlet Letter. The scarlet letter is an "A", in crimson fabric, worn by a Puritan woman for her act of adultery. Its very existence is solely to cause shame and remorse on Hester Prynne and her daughter Pearl, who was conceived in her lust, but it comes to stand for so much more.... [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]
1835 words (5.2 pages)
- 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]
1224 words (3.5 pages)
- Pearl as Living Symbol in The Scarlet Letter Pearl. A child born of sin. Conceived by lust. Created by impurity. As the result of her parents fall from grace, she represents the sinfulness of their act, and is a continual tool for the recollection of their dubious deed. Sent, was she, from the Almighty God as a gift, and a burden of the heart. "'God gave me the child?' cried she. 'He gave her in requital of all things else, which ye had taken from me. She is my happiness!- she is my torture, none the less! See ye not, she is the scarlet letter, only capable of being loved, and so endowed with a million fold the power of retributio... [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]
706 words (2 pages)
- Pillars of Metaphorical Ambiguity in The Scarlet Letter Among the multiplicity of arcane elements hidden beneath the words in Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter", none is so apparent, yet strikingly subtle to the reader's perception and consumption of characterization than the allegorical play on words within the names of the characters. Both the protagonist and her rival within the plot are blessed with conveniently appropriate, fitting names. The four pillars supporting this novel are all cloaked with foreshadowing names, which silently clue the reader into what traits and significance the character holds as the story unfolds. These pillars that solidify the novel are Hester Prynne, Rog... [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]
1429 words (4.1 pages)
- 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]
1364 words (3.9 pages)
- Nathaniel Hawthorne is a prominent writer who uses many different elements in his works. He uses elements such as symbolism, figurative language, metaphor, irony and etc. to make his work prominent. In the works by Nathaniel Hawthorne, he uses symbols for secret sin in The Scarlet Letter, “The Minister’s Black Veil,” and “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment.” As seen in The Scarlet letter, the symbol for secret sin is the Scarlet letter “A.” The “A” represents the sin in which Hester commits adultery with the town’s minister, Dimmesdale.... [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Symbolism, ]
479 words (1.4 pages)
- Symbols in The Scarlet Letter Symbolism plays an important role in many novels. Held with the distinction of implying important themes, symbols add depth to a story. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, in the 1640’s. Embellished with symbols and hidden themes, the novel tells "a tale of human frailty and sorrow" (Hawthorne 46). In addition to human flaw and sadness, the novel reveals inhumane punishment and torture from the government and citizens of Puritan society.... [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne]
989 words (2.8 pages)
- "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get," suggests Tom Hanks in the motion picture "Forrest Gump". He utilizes this metaphor to align a box of chocolates as a symbol for life. Symbolism serves as a useful tool to convey a message or point subtly so that the concept lingers in the mind of the reader, who then establishes a relation in his or her mind with that object and the message. Hawthorne uses symbolism in The Scarlet Letter extensively to express the underlying truths about the stifling nature of Puritan society and the dispositions of the characters in the novel.... [tags: essays research papers]
1567 words (4.5 pages)
The weather in the novel also serves as a prominent symbol. The atmospheric conditions have an uncanny way of conforming to the mood of the novel. The first reference to weather in the novel occurs when the grim beadle is shouting at the crowd to make way so Hester can progress to the scaffold. “A blessing on the righteous Colony of Massachusetts, where iniquity is dragged out into the sunshine” (59). Here the sunshine is being referred to as a symbol of revelation. The sin is being displayed plainly in the light of the sun so that all may be aware of it. The sunshine is also symbolic of happiness. Pearl first tries to catch sunlight at the Governor’s Hall where it is bouncing brilliantly off the stucco. She turns to Hester and demands that some be caught for her. Hester replies by telling Pearl that she has to catch her own sunlight because she has none to give her. This illustrates the obvious lack of happiness in Hester’s life and her inability to make her child happy. The most profound use of weather as symbolism occurs in the forest. When Hester and Pearl first enter the woods, the sky is overcast and dark save for sporadic gleams of light that shine through the clouds when the wind blows. These beams of light withdraw themselves when they come near Hester and Pearl. Pearl takes notice of this and reasons that the sunlight is afraid of Hester. This is symbolic of the unwillingness of joy to come to Hester. Later on when the two are separated, the beams flock to Pearl, but whenever Hester comes near they vanish. When Arthur Dimmesdale also appears in the forest, he and Hester converse for a time and then ultimately decide to leave Boston. Overwhelmed with joy at the prospect of leaving with Arthur, Hester casts aside her cap and the scarlet letter. The sun then floods her with light. This signifies a rebirth. It also reiterates the symbol of happiness.
Nathaniel Hawthorne uses setting and weather as conveyors of symbolism throughout his novel. Generally, the setting stands for the contrast or similarity of the Puritan ideal. It also frequently represents guilt and sin. The settings of the scaffold and prison are such symbols. The weather usually signifies some sort of emotion. However, in some parts of the novel it indicates a change of heart or rebirth in a character. These symbols, along with other literary elements, make The Scarlet Letter a very effective piece of literature.
1. You have a beautiful thesis statement!
2. Your paper is very strong. You have a good introduction with a great thesis statement. You stick to your thesis statement in an organized fashion and you conclude your paper well by reiterating your points.
3. When quoting someone’s speech it is okay to use just the quotation marks. “A blessing on the righteous Colony of Massachusetts.” Use the commas if you are quoting the text as well as speech. “Cried he, ‘a blessing on the righteous Colony of Massachusetts.’ A lane was forthwith opened.” If the speech begins or ends the quote then wherever quotations are used, the commas are not needed. “A blessing on the righteous Colony of Massachusetts.’ A land was forthwith opened.”
4. Your paper would be even stronger if you supported each point that you make with proof from the text. You use only two quotes in your paper, one for the weather symbolism and one for the scaffold symbolism. If you had proven your ideas about the symbolism of the town, the prison, the forest and each point about the weather with quotes from the text you could have left out needless summary and concentrated more on the analysis.