The Scarlet Letter

Length: 4 Pages 932 Words

Nathaniel Hawthorne used symbolism a great deal in many of his works, including Rappachini’s Daughter and “The Ministers Black Veil”, but most prominently in The Scarlet Letter. There are differences between Hawthorne’s symbolism and “conventional” symbolism, Hawthorne flatly stated what his symbols meant on the uppermost level, when some other authors “beat around the bush” as to the real (or ‘subliminal’) meanings of certain characters, settings, and important events. The most important symbols in this book are the prison, the rosebush, Pearl, and the color red. The first significant symbol is introduced in the very first pages of the novel. The Cornhill prison, where so much of this novel took place in or around, is “marked with weather-stains and other indications of age”(Hawthorne, 45) as it was built along with the first burial ground when the Puritans first settled in Boston. The prison is a great deal more than an edifice in the center of town, it shows the harshness and severity of Puritan law. These people ventured to a new land, and immediately set up a form of punishment and containment for breaking the law. The severity of punishment was shown in Hawthorne’s mentioning of Anne Hutch Continue...


Also, later on in the story, thewilderness is what gives both Hester and Dimmesdale their final solution. The Puritan laws were very impermeable, as seenthrough Hester's own punishment. A very symbolic novel, perhaps oneof the most relevant and well-written books that I have read, Hawthorne'sunique way of presenting the symbolism adds a great deal to the book,and its impact upon the readers. These menthink that this child should not be named Pearl, rather she should benamed after the color of the fire between her mother and unknownlover. When Pearl is asked "Canstthou tell me, my child, who made thee (102), she responds by"announcing that she had not been made at all, but had been pluckedby her mother off the bush of wild roses that grew by theprison-door(103). In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Hester sacrifices her publicopinion for Dimmesdale's love, and later Dimmesdale gives up his own lifefor Hester. Pearl not only believes, but knows, that the rose is asymbol of her mother's adultery, out of which she has grown, or been"plucked. 528750303 (24 Oct, 1999)Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The firstred rose is believed to have sprung from the blood of Adonis (Greekmythological figure who was beloved by Aphrodite and Persephone), asa sacrifice to win Aphrodite's love. This symbolism is verystraight-forward, and easy to understand, which is possibly one of thereasons that they are so meaningful. In the Christian religion, the rose issymbolic of the blood shed by Jesus on the Cross. It was just the way of life though, strictand specific rules that were punishable by the most cruel manners. He doesnot, in any manner, elude the reader from the symbolism of the prison. Wilson's response is : "Pearl - Ruby,rather! - or Coral ! - or Red Rose, at the very least.