Scarlet Letter Essay

542 WordsOct 10, 20123 Pages
The Meaning of Light, Color, and the Scarlet A The symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous novel The Scarlet Letter is evident throughout the story. Hawthorne shows clear symbolism, the representation of something in symbolic form or the attribution of symbolic meaning or character of something, in many key parts throughout the novel. Symbolisms in the novel are examples such as light, color, and the Scarlet A. Hawthorne first shows symbolism with light and color. Likewise, colors – such as red, gray, and black – play a role in the symbolic nature of the background and scenery. But, similar to the characters, the context determines what role the light or colors play. The Scarlet Letter’s first chapter ends with an admonition to “relieve the darkening close of a tale of human frailty and sorrow” with “some sweet moral blossom” (46). These opposites are found throughout the novel and often set the tone and define which side of good and evil envelop the character. In chapter 16, Hester and Dimmesdale meet in the forest with a “gray expanse of cloud” and a “narrow path hemmed in by the black and dense forest” (179). The feelings of the lovers, weighed down by guilt, are reflected in the darkness of nature. Darkness is also part of the description of the jail in Chapter 1, the scene of sin and punishment. Colors play a similar role to light and darkness. One of the predominant colors is red, seen in the rose, the letter, Pearl’s clothing, the “scarlet woman”, Chillingworth’s eyes, and the streak of the meteor. At night and always with the physician, the letter is associated with darkness and evil; in the other associations, it is part of nature, passion, lawlessness, and imagination. On the contrary, besides the characters, the most talked about symbol in the novel is the scarlet letter itself, which has various connotations. It is a sign of adultery, penance,

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