Isolation Through Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter

Isolation Through Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter

Length: 690 words (2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Isolation Through Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter


     A symbol is an object used to stand for something else. Symbolism has a hidden meaning lying within it; these meanings unite to form a more detailed theme. Symbolism is widely used in The Scarlet Letter to help the reader better understand the deep meanings Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays throughout his novel. He shows that sin, known or unknown to the community, isolates a person from their community and from God. Hawthorne also shows this by symbols in nature around the town, natural symbols in the heavens, and nature in the forest.
     First, two symbols in the town show how sin isolate people. In the first chapter there is a plant that stands out, “But on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rosebush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems” (46). It stands out as wild and different among the grass and weeds as Hester does in the Puritan town. She wears her scarlet letter as the rosebush wears its scarlet blossoms. Later in the book Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth (Hester’s unknown husband) discuss a strange dark plant that Chillingworth discovered. “I found them growing on a grave that bore no tombstone, nor other memorial of the dead man, save these ugly weeds that have taken upon themselves to keep him in remembrance. They grew out of his heart, and typify, it maybe, some hideous secret that was buried with him, and which he had done better to confess during his lifetime” (127). Here there is a man whose sin was not publicly discovered while he was alive. This person tried to keep wrongdoing a secret by hiding it within himself. Yet the sin was too strong to hide and later reveled after his death. There remains nothing honorable about the place where this person lies, but the weed that grew out of the blackness of this person’s heart.
     The next area is a symbol in the heavens. This occurs during the second famous scaffold scene. Dimmesdale, Hester, and Pearl are on the scaffold when, “a light gleamed far and wide over all the muffled sky. It was doubtless caused by one of those meteors” (150). “The minister looking upward to the zenith, beheld there the appearance of an immense letter-the letter ‘A’- marked out in lines of dull red light” (152).

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Isolation Through Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Apr 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=72324>.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Theme Development Through Symbolism Essay

- Authors’ incorporation of symbolism in their writing not only helps convey ideas and concepts without stating them explicitly, but it also significantly contributes to the theme. Through the medium of a symbol, whose physical characteristics closely relate to those of its corresponding meaning, authors allow their work to reach much greater literary depths; symbolism gives the reader the opportunity to analyze the implicit and more significant meaning behind what is unequivocally written. To achieve the same effect, Nathaniel Hawthorne provides various examples of effective symbolism in his novel, The Scarlet Letter, especially in the form of the scaffold....   [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter]

Research Papers
890 words (2.5 pages)

Symbolism: S for Superman and A for Adultery in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter"

- Talented writers often use extensive symbolism in there writing to portray intricate thoughts, ideas, and concepts. For example, in the popular 1978 movie Superman the “S” on Superman’s costume stands for super. Along the same lines, the “A” in Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is also a symbol. However, in contrast to the one dimensional meaning of the “S” in Superman, the “A” in The Scarlet Letter has a multifaceted meaning. As the literature unfolds the meaning of the crimson letter shining on Hester Prynne’s bosom subtlety changes from meaning adulterer, to able and finally the “A” becomes a symbol for angel....   [tags: Symbolism, Superman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Scarlet ]

Research Papers
937 words (2.7 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- The Scarlet Letter “The Scarlet Letter”, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, records a struggled life about two adultery lovers. This story was marked by the most successful work back in 1850s and also become to a big part of Hawthorne’s writing career. Through the eyes of his main character Hester Prynne, the readers seem to see a woman’s helpless under a brutal and traditional society, which was ruled by Puritan people. After his book had been published one after another, no one can deny Hawthorne’s irreplaceable talent and unremitting effort....   [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter]

Research Papers
1006 words (2.9 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- The Scarlet Letter “The Scarlet Letter”, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, records a struggled life about two adultery lovers. This story was marked by the most successful work back in 1850s and also become to a big part of Hawthorne’s writing career. Through the eyes of his main character Hester Prynne, the readers seem to see a woman’s helpless under a brutal and traditional society, which was ruled by Puritan people. After his book had been published one after another, no one can deny Hawthorne’s irreplaceable talent and unremitting effort....   [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter]

Research Papers
1008 words (2.9 pages)

The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, like many romantic novels, opens the reader 's mind to many different views on the ideal life. The key details of the novel 's plot and character diversity are strategically used to show many different aspects to life. Two aspects that are repeatedly shown in the novel are the contrasts between nature and society. Hawthorne highlights several romantic ideas to emphasize the effect of nature’s purity and freedom on people in contrast with the corruption of community....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Research Papers
1268 words (3.6 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- Nathaniel Hawthorne’s writings show how sin is sin until it is publicized. He goes into great depth to show both sides of private and public sin. People still sin and judge others today. However, the ways that sin is seen today is much different in a historical type of way. The idea of sin never really seemed to make sense to Hawthorne. Hawthorne’s writings are still relevant today because the world is full of sex symbolism and sin. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s writings show how people tend to overlook their own sin but speak loudly about other’s sin....   [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter]

Research Papers
1197 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

- The Scarlet Letter As written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Be true. Be true. Be true!” (Hawthorne, 254). In a world full of corruption and deceit, the light of truth always finds a way to shine through, even in the darkest of places. It may be argued that forests and prisons, cloaked with gloomy ambience, are unlikely places to find this ray of honesty. However, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the author reinforces the rawness of truth and forgiveness, the destructiveness of secrets and revenge, and the evolving symbolism of light by the use of contrasting settings presented by the forest and prison....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Research Papers
1855 words (5.3 pages)

Essay on The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

- Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale in the novel, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, struggle to go about life. The characters Hester and Dimmesdale both are ostracized in the story and run into complications with the puritan society and how its morals affect them. The literary elements symbolism, imagery, and setting emphasize the motivations and reactions with the conflict of individual vs. society. The “A” or scarlet letter is the ultimate symbol of the entire novel. Initially, the letter symbolized shame then shifted later in time....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Research Papers
1118 words (3.2 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, a combination of various literary elements contribute to the academic value of the novel. Symbolism, imagery, and figurative language assist in conveying the tone of the events occurring in main character’s lives. From Hester’s first public appearance as a sinner to the A illustrated on her grave, she experiences mixed emotions both interpersonally and extrapersonally, defining why her story is one of highest regards. From the first scene on the scaffold, Hester’s scarlet letter and her intense shame define her character....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Research Papers
1071 words (3.1 pages)

Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Essay

- In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the Puritan community banned all forms of sin. Sin was looked upon as evil, being connected to the devil and his dark ways. Hester Prynne, the main character of the story, was shunned by the rest of the Puritan world after committing the sin of adultery. She lived in a world where it was not accepted. She was isolated from the world around her, having little hope. Throughout the novel, symbols such as the character of the kind woman, the wild rose bush outside of the prison doors and the character of Pearl, Hester Prynne's illegitimate child, are used to show that even in a world full of sin and darkness, there is always hope....   [tags: Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Free Essays
940 words (2.7 pages)

Related Searches

This is a sign of God’s disapproval of the two sinners, especially Dimmesdale. Hester has already been discovered and is receiving her punishment by wearing the scarlet letter. Dimmesdale, however, hides his sin from people and because of this, heaven shows by natural forces that he is no longer welcome.
     Last to be discussed are the natural symbols that are encountered in the forest. When Hester meets Dimmesdale in the forest, all the sorrow of the past few years is brought up. The natural surrounding begin to respond to their pain, “The boughs are tossing heavily above their heads; while one solemn old tree groaned dolefully to another, as if telling the sad story of the pair that sat beneath, or constrained to forebode evil to come” (192). Even the natural world around them could sense the unfairness in their situation and how society has caused them to live a lie or deny themselves what they really want (each other). Later in the same scene Hester and Dimmesdale decide to escape together in a moment of joy, Hester takes off her scarlet letter and threw it on the bank of the river. She thinks she can remove guilt as easily as the letter itself. When the river does not carry the letter away, it shows she is doomed to her shame.
     In conclusion, Hawthorne uses symbolism in nature around the town, natural symbols in the heavens, and nature in the forest, to show how sin leads to isolation. The main sinners of this novel are constantly set apart from others, and the whole world is in disapproval. A lesson should be learned from the theme of Hawthorne’s novel. Isolation is only one of the many effects of sin.



Return to 123HelpMe.com