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Scarlet Letter Imagery Essay

Imagery And Irony In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

Imagery and Irony in The Scarlet Letter            

Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of The Scarlet Letter, uses a variety of literary techniques in order to produce energy and invoke the interest of the reader.  He creates the mood and the climax of the novel by using the techniques of imagery and irony.  Yet, it is his use of symbolism that truly carries the novel.

            An abundance of symbolism appears in many different forms, adding interest to the novel.  For instance, Hawthorne uses his characters, such as Pearl, as symbols; “It was the scarlet letter in another form, the scarlet letter endowed with life.” (Ch. VII pg. 103)  Pearl is a symbol of the sin of Hester and Dimmesdale.  She serves as a constant punishment and living conscience.  In addition, Hawthorne uses natural occurrences such as light and darkness as symbols by having Dimmesdale stand upon the scaffold only at night.  Darkness, therefore, is a symbol of the concealment of sin, and light becomes a symbol of truth and acceptance of guilt.  The use of light and dark occurs many times throughout the novel to place emphasis on the underlying morals.  Furthermore, Hawthorne uses everyday objects, such as the brook in the forest, to serve as a symbol.  Pearl refused to cross the brook and join her mother on the other side, making the brook a symbol of the boundary between the two worlds of truth and deception.  This natural setting is one of the most striking in the novel.  By using symbolism in these three forms (characters, natural occurrence, and simple objects) Hawthorne is able to introduce numerous symbols, which reveal hidden morals.

            Hawthorne uses four types of imagery; light/darkness, biblical, color, and living/dying, in order to bring the story to life in the mind of the reader.  For instance, “Pearl set forth at a great pace…did actually catch the sunshine, and stood laughing in the midst of it, all brightened by its splendor, and scintillating with the vivacity excited by rapid motion.” (Ch. XVI pg. 176)  While standing in the midst of the light, Pearl appears to have a glow about her that draws the readers’ attention to her childhood innocence. Pearl has committed no sin, and, as depicted in this passage, still possesses her innocence.  In addition, “They averred that the symbol was not mere scarlet cloth...but was redhot with infernal fire, and could be seen glowing all alight whenever Hester Prynne walked abroad in the nighttime.”  (Ch. V pg.91)  This example of imagery, brings to life the scarlet letter, and describes how it burned upon Hester’s chest.  Hester’s guilt is personified so that it not...

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Essay on Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter

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In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author presents three symbols that all reinforce the main idea of the novel. The main idea that reoccurred throughout the novel is that people don’t have to let their mistakes or circumstances determine who they are or what they become; it’s all in how one interprets life. Many symbols may seem as just an ordinary character or coincidental object to some readers, but the symbols have a deeper, underlying meaning. Although there are many symbols in this book, there are three that really help support the main idea: Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter, the meteor, and Hester’s daughter Pearl. One symbol is Hester’s scarlet “A” that she wears on her bosom. She received this letter, specifically…show more content…

The Puritans despised Hester and her symbol for her sin, and shunned her for many years even after her prison sentence. Hester could have just lived a depressed, lonely life in seclusion with her daughter Pearl, but she decided to accept her sin and wrong doing to become a mentally stronger woman. During the many years of Hester being in prison and being rejected when she was released, she practiced needlework to provide food for her and her daughter. As the people in Salem recognized her talent of her embroidery and garments, they began respecting her talent, and so the scarlet “A” that stood for “adulterer” slowly began to stand for “able.” Hester started to supply apparel for babies, ceremonies, inaugurations, and funerals. Furthermore, the Scarlet letter has another symbolic meaning. When Pearl went to the seashore, she made a green letter “A” out of seaweed – nature’s color. This was symbolic for Pearl’s sinless life so far because she hasn’t truly been introduced to sin; she still is “green” and “pure”. As for Hester, her scarlet “A” is symbolic of her many sins, for no one can avoid sin as they grow older. A second symbol that supports the main idea is the meteor. As The Scarlet Letter progresses, the readers find out that Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is the man who committed adultery with Hester. Because he has not admitted to his fault, Dimmesdale has been plagued with a sickness where he is constantly grabbing at

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