Archetypes In The Scarlet Letter

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“Wherefore not; since all the powers of nature call so earnestly for the confession of sin, that these black weeds have sprung up out of a buried heart, to make manifest an unspoken crime?” This quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter, represents the truth upheld by a person, and how it carries with them through eternity. Hawthorne captures the truth of reality and sin in The Scarlet Letter. By using many literary devices, he reveals the truth of the Scarlet Letter and the characters in his novel. Being a novel during the romantic period, Hawthorne makes many symbolic and archetypical references to the power of nature, and the supernatural. Hawthorne uses these archetypes and symbols in addition to light motifs to demonstrate…show more content…
Archetypes are specific details such as color or lighting that stand out and have a symbolic meaning in a text. The Scarlet Letter uses many color archetypes. In the novel, Hester Prynne has just emerged from the prison and has fully revealed herself to the public. The narrator describes, “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.” The gold thread around her red scarlet letter draw attention to the letter that represents her sin, showing that sin cannot be kept a secret. Yellow, or gold, is an archetype that in a room is commonly the first color to be noticed. The gold around the red letter draws the attention of the public towards her scarlet letter, thus drawing attention to her sins. This shows her truth cannot be kept a secret. Lastly, as the novel is coming to a close, the narrator is describing the burial place and headstone of Hester Prynne. He describes that upon the tombstone, there appears to be a coat of arms that has inscribed on it, “On a field, sable, the letter A, gules.” Red is used to represent sin or passion. Black can be used to represent darkness and even rebellion. Throughout the story, it mentions Hester’s clothing being the black fabric with the red letter on it. The last line of the novel mentions the letter A on a sable; a sable is a black background. The black and red contrast in general drawing attention and it shows the sin, represented by the red, with the rebellion, represented by the black, which helps to reveal the truth about Hester in the novel. Red also represents passion. By ending with this image of the scarlet letter on a black background, it represents the passion Hester has for her tangible representation of the truth, Pearl. Everyone has seen Pearl for she cannot be hidden, much like the scarlet letter upon Hester, and the
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