A symbol is an object used to stand for something else. Symbolism has a hidden meaning lying within it; these meanings unite to form a more detailed theme. Symbolism is widely used in The Scarlet Letter to help the reader better understand the deep meanings Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays throughout his novel. He shows that sin, known or unknown to the community, isolates a person from their community and from God. Hawthorne also shows this by symbols in nature around the town, natural symbols in the heavens, and nature in the forest.
First, two symbols in the town show how sin isolate people. In the first chapter there is a plant that stands out, "But on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rosebush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems" (46). It stands out as wild and different among the grass and weeds as Hester does in the Puritan town. She wears her scarlet letter as the rosebush wears its scarlet blossoms. Later in the book Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth (Hester's unknown husband) discuss a strange dark plant that Chillingworth discovered. "I found them growing on a grave that bore no tombstone, nor other memorial of the dead man, save these ugly weeds that have taken upon themselves to keep him in remembrance. They grew out of his heart, and typify, it maybe, some hideous secret that was buried with him, and which he had done better to confess during his lifetime" (127). Here there is a man whose sin was not publicly discovered while he was alive. This person tried to keep wrongdoing a secret by hiding it within himself. Yet the sin was too strong to hide and later reveled after his death. There remains nothing honorable about the place where this person lies, but the weed that grew out of the blackness of this person's heart.
The next area is a symbol in the heavens. This occurs during the second famous... [continues]
Cite This Essay
(2002, 03). Isolation Through Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's the Scarlet Lette. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 03, 2002, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Isolation-Through-Symbolism-Nathaniel-Hawthornes-Scarlet-38590.html
"Isolation Through Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's the Scarlet Lette" StudyMode.com. 03 2002. 03 2002 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/Isolation-Through-Symbolism-Nathaniel-Hawthornes-Scarlet-38590.html>.
"Isolation Through Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's the Scarlet Lette." StudyMode.com. 03, 2002. Accessed 03, 2002. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Isolation-Through-Symbolism-Nathaniel-Hawthornes-Scarlet-38590.html.