A symbol is something that represents something else by association. They can be used for many purposes like foreshadowing imagery and other literary terms. In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the rosebush, the scaffold, the scarlet letter "A", and the setting of the forest are used to describe ideas that are significant to the plot of the story. In the case of the rosebush, Hawthorne shows that even good things can blossom even if surrounded by adversity. Hawthorne uses the scaffold as a place to get sins off ones chest and into the public. He also shows that the scarlet letter is not a very big humiliation for Hester. In the case of the setting of the forest, it helps the characters escape from the bounds of laws. By showing the significance of the rosebush, the scaffold, and the setting of the forest, Hawthorne is able to communicate the plot to the reader.
Hawthorne shows the rosebush in the beginning of the story to represent Hester's life. She blossoms through out the story just as the rosebush does even though it is surrounded by many bad circumstances. The rosebush has thorns on it which show that Hester's life has many rough spots in it, like the crime she commits. The rosebush also represents death because it is next to the cemetery, and Hester is also surrounded by death with the death of Dimmsedale and Chillingsworth. Rosebushes also are very beautiful. This also relates to Hester because she is beautiful as described here, "The young woman was tall, with a figure of perfect elegance on a large scale. She had dark and abundant hair, so glossy that it threw off the sunshine with a gleam; and a face which, besides being beautiful from regularity of feature and richness of complexion, had the impressiveness belonging to a marked brow and deep black eyes. She was ladylike, too, after the manner of the feminine gentility of those days; characterized by a certain state and dignity, rather than by... [continues]
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