Symbolism in the Scarlet Letter The Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne is known to have a lot of symbolism. Symbolism is a way to convey ideas and give a book a deeper meaning to readers. While there are many symbols in the Scarlet Letter, there are a few that stand out more than others. Pearl, Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth are all main characters that have symbols. Hawthorne symbols are used to help readers relate to the story. In order to really comprehend the book the reader must understand the use of symbolism and what each of the characters represent. Pearl is the daughter of Hester and Dimmesdale. She was conceived while Hester was married to Chillingworth so Pearl was born out of sin. Pearl symbolizes the …show more content…
Dimmesdale’s scarlet letter on his chest showed that “...where the letter may be guessed to have appeared for a similar signifying function as on Hester, it is, however, as invisible as the act or condition it refers to”(Bell,17). While Dimmesdale may physically have the scarlet letter, the scarlet letter does not do anything in helping to relieve his guilt. No one knows of the scarlet letter on his breast or the child he made with Hester out of wedlock. He can not fully face the punishments for his sin making the guilt eat him alive. Many people assume that he took the easy road between him and Hester, but in the end he is the one who suffers most because he is unable to repent for his sins. Also, while readers might also assume that Dimmesdale holds regret for ever becoming involved with Hester, that is not the case. Dimmesdale says ”...of penance there has been enough, of penitence there is none” (Hawthorne, 212). Dimmesdale is saying that no matter what he does to punish himself it does not heal him and that he has no regret for being with Hester and having Pearl.
While Dimmesdale symbolizes guilt and regret, Hester symbolizes repentance. Repentance is the act of admitting your sins and starting to get forgiveness for them. Hester is a prime example of repentance. Hester admitted to the sin of adultery and she took the consequences for the sin. She proved to all the townspeople that she was still a
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By revealing this small, hidden regret, he exposes Hester’s tortured state of mind. Unable to reach salvation in the town she desired to live in, she regretfully decided to leave and abandon her sorrows. The burden society placed on her with the scarlet letter was too demanding for her to handle any longer. Similarly, Arthur Dimmesdale was distressed from his ignominy. Afraid of societal repercussions, Dimmesdale had been “overcome with a great horror of mind, as if the universe were gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast” (102). Society’s extensive honor toward him exacerbated his pain, thus causing society to trap Dimmesdale; this prevented him from revealing his dark secret and reaching salvation. Additionally, he began to picture his surroundings as an obstacle designed to hinder his path to redemption. His shortcoming to reach salvation agonized Dimmesdale to the point where he was incapable of recalling “[any] text of Scripture, nor aught else, except a brief, pithy, and, as it then appeared to him, unanswerable argument against the immorality of
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.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, symbolsim is constantly present in the actual scarlet letter “A” as it is viewed as a symbol of sin and the gradally changes its meanign, guilt is also a mejore symbol, and Pearl’s role in this novel is symbolic as well. The Scarlet Letter includes many profound and crucial symbols. these devices of symbolism are best portayed in the novel, most noticably through the letter “A” best exemplifies the changes in the symbolic meaning throughout the novel.
If it is important, it is remembered. If it has any value, it will last far into the future, if not forever. This is why Michelangelo’s David, the Mona Lisa, the automobile, The Beatles, and Pride and Prejudice are all remembered. If it is the first to make an impact, it becomes important. That is when it will affect people in future generations. For example, the Model T is not produced anymore, but is the grandfather of almost every car made today, affecting jobs, businesses, people, and the world. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is taught today because it was one of the first important American written novels that contained obvious symbolism. Since symbolism is used in everything of literary merit, it is important to see where it started. In the same way, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has lasted through the years and still be prevalent today. This is achieved in the original books and continuing in spin offs and adaptations.
There are many forms of symbolism found in The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne, the author uses his many forms of symbolism to project a lesson or moral created throughout the story. Even each of the main characters has a different moral representation. Guilt, repentance, purity, and strength each are shown through the eyes of a different character. Pear, Hester Prynne, Chillingworth, and Reverend Dimmesdale are main characters that are used to show that you should “Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred!”(Hawthorne286)
The Puritan era in New England was inundated with an atmosphere of righteousness and judgment. This culture spurned those who strayed from its religious codes. In his novel The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses multiple symbols to bring a deeper meaning to the society, his characters, and to adultery. One of the motifs used comes as the character Pearl, the daughter of the two adulterers. Pearl has multiple descriptions; physically, she is “a lovely and immortal flower,” yet also “an airy sprite . . . as if she were hovering in the air and might vanish” (80, 83). She has a “wild, desperate, defiant mood” and is often referred to as a “flower,” a “bird,” and an “elf” (82, 80, 98, 87). Hawthorne uses Pearl’s multi-layered personality
Hester is publicly recognized because of the scarlet letter; as a result, she is liberated by it. Readers are told that “many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength” (146). While Hester’s strength is bolstered, however, Dimmesdale’s only diminishes, because he is forced to internalize his shame and despair. The various ways in which the minister tries to correct this misery are revealed halfway through the novel: “In Mr. Dimmesdale’s secret closet, under lock and key, there was a bloody scourge…It was his custom, too, as it has been that of many other pious Puritans, to fast – not, however, like them, in order to purify the body…but rigorously, and until his knees trembled beneath him, as an act of penance. He kept vigils, likewise, night after night…He thus typified the constant introspection wherewith he tortured, but could not purify, himself” (132). Through these means of self-harm, Dimmesdale acknowledges his tragic flaw, but he does nothing to redeem himself publicly. Dimmesdale is entirely unable to forgive himself for his sin, even when he is able to forgive Hester: “’I do forgive you, Hester. I freely forgive you now!’”
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter provides a window into the puritanical mind through his character Reverend Dimmesdale. Reverend Dimmesdale comes to understand that one's relationship with God supersedes any other relationship one has, whether it's with one's beloved, one's children, or one's social circle. He expresses it publicly on the scaffold in a dramatic sequence in a passage in chapter 23. Throughout the story Dimmesdale is supposed to be an example of upright godly behavior but he's lying everyday, all the time, in every relationship because he had an affair with Hester. While adultery was illegal, it was also against one of God's Ten Commandments.
In the Scarlet Letter there are two characters that are provided as a foil for one another. The one character Dimmesdale seems as if he is kind, but he has a terrible burden on him that is being torturing out of him. Chillingworth is his opposite. You think he is nice when really he is quite evil. Dimmesdale and Chillingworth bring out each other's characteristics and bring out the characteristics of other characters around them.
He cowers in confidence by refusing to expose his sin and torments himself through starvation and whippings. The carving of the scarlet letter is a self-induced punishment manifested by the shame he feels and desires to release. The inscribed A signifies "the effect of the ever-active tooth of remorse." Dimmesdale and Hester are equally guilty of the same crime, yet denied his responsibility and left Hester to bear the blame of his punishment at "which the burden of shame and anguish departed from her spirit."(ch. 18) As Hester was able to confront her sin and become ostracized from the Puritan community, Dimmesdale continued to be the respected minister. His selfishness, deteriorating health, and cowardice actions reflected the secrecy of his
In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, both Dimmesdale and Hester have grievously sinned in the eyes of the Puritan community. However, while Hester lives with her guilt publicly displayed in the form of the scarlet letter and Pearl, Dimmesdale hides his sin from the community and tries to continue as their saintly pastor. Yet, this concealment is not without consequences, as Dimmesdale suffers from horrible guilt as he denies his sin from his community, and thus denies himself forgiveness for his sin. Finally resolving to tell the truth on his deathbed, Dimmesdale dies after triumphantly punishment of having Chillingworth and Pearl as his personal tormentors. However, though Dimmesdale manages to overcome Chillingworth and Pearl, he
Webster defined "symbol" with these words: "Something concrete that represents or suggests another thing that cannot in itself be pictured." This concept has been particularly applied to literature and used by writers throughout history. Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter uses multitudes of symbols in such a manner. One of the most prominent, and most complicated, of such symbols is the scarlet letter "A". The scarlet letter "A" is a symbol of a daughter's connection to her mother, isolation, and the devil and its associations.
In the Novel The Scarlet Letter by, Nathaniel Hawthorne written in the 1800’s, takes place in the 1600’s during puritan times. Puritanism is the believe that everyone is naturally born evil. Hawthorne teaches a lot of lessons threw symbolism. Symbolism is when the author makes a person or object have a deeper meaning. In his novel“The Scarlet Letter the symbolic significance of the Scarlet Letter, Dimmesdale and Pearl to contribute to the theme of guilt.
Authors employ symbolism to convey a complex idea and incorporate a deeper understanding of a novel. Many writers exert symbolism through an object, character, or a circumstance that signifies a deeper meaning rather than directly pointing out how they feel about their novel. In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne includes symbols to represent his life experiences under Puritan ideals. Hawthorne uses symbolism in the names of the following characters; Hester Prynne, Roger Chillingworth, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Pearl which represents different aspects of each characters personality. Hawthorne selected these names based on biblical references, Puritan era, and evocative names. In The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne writes a historical and romantic fiction novel riddled with symbolism to help portray a profound understanding of the main characters.
Pearl primarily serves the role of silently urging Dimmesdale to overcome the pressures to conform to society, and to allow his guilty inner-self to emerge and receive retribution for his sins. She exists as a constant and living reminder and product of the sin Hester and Dimmesdale committed, and acknowledges the false innocence Dimmesdale tries so desperately to maintain. Her inquisition, "Why does he not wear [a scarlet letter] outside his bosom as thou dost?" (ch 16) to her mother concerning Dimmesdale is evidence of this. Pearl has no chance to conform to society because at birth she is regarded