Scarlet Letter Symbolism

Topics: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Light Pages: 4 (1684 words) Published: January 2, 2013
If the sun never shone, we would live in a dark world. But some people already feel in the dark due to their emotions. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlett Letter explores the dark emotions of guilt and shame and the effects of these on humans. The main character, Hester, lives her life under everyone’s judgment, and the potential of her never reaching forgiveness. This would be what life would feel like living a life emotionally in the dark. Much of the light and dark symbolization comes about when a character of the book is conflicting with the puritan society. Hawthorne presents a motif of light vs. dark surrounding the characters to show the impact that society has on them by trying to reach the perfect life of a transcendental.

The negativity of allowing society’s judgments is created by Hester Prynne’s symbol of adultery she wears upon her chest. Hester’s introduced in the story as, “The door of the jail being flung open from within, there appeared, in the first place, like a black shadow emerging into the sunshine” (35). The narrator chooses to call Hester a black shadow to imply because of her new announced sin, Hester will carry the guilt and will have society’s judgments ridiculing her. Shadow is an already dark object, by adding the work dark; it gives a heavier connotation of negativity that the readers are supposed to feel about Hester, that she is a terrible person. She believes their judgments, which is in opposition to the ways of a transcendental life, she is not living life to please herself, but to please her society. Her new reputation as a sinner makes the townspeople very confident in that they want nothing to with her and treat her like she is worth nothing by, “Throwing his eyes anxiously in the direction of the voice, in indistinctly beheld a form under the trees, clad in garments so sombre, and so little relieved from the gray twilight into which the crowded sky and the darkened the noontide, that he knew not whether it...
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