Scarlet Letter Symbolisms and Metaphors

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We can see 3 symbols in the first chapter — prison, cemetery and rose. They respectively represent the Puritan Society, mortality, and pain or human’s beautiful but fragile hope. This sets a gloomy opening for the dark novel, in which readers can hardly find any merry plots. Also in chapter 7, the outré garden of the Governor’s Hall divulges problems of decay and disrepair in the Puritan society in Boston. The main symbols are the scaffold and the scarlet letter, they have a key difference in function — the scaffold witnessed the changes of the characters as time went by, while the scarlet letter seemed never change, imposing the same burden on Hester Prynne, and brought out the theme of the story - the effects of sin and guilt on human heart. (“The bridge which guilt has once made into the human soul is never repaired in this life.”) The scaffold appeared 3 times in the book, it made its first appearance in the second chapter, Hester Prynne was made standing on the scaffold in front of the public, bearing the punishment for her violation of adultery. The crowd was vicious since they considered adultery as the most serious sin, they called Hester Prynne a hussy and said she should be branded on the forehead with an hot iron. She was suffering and humiliated under the harsh and venomous public voice and vision. Hawthorne said she “felt as her heart had been thrown onto the street, people were trampling on it”, as punishment and confessions were to be made in public in Puritan time. “Let her cover it (the scarlet A) as she will, but the pang of it will always be in her heart.” Said by a young woman among the spectators, here Hawthorne insinuated that Hester Prynne was going to suffer from the sin for the rest of her life, she would never be released. And by the end of the story, the four characters all appeared on the scaffold again, it signified Arthur

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