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The Rose Bush in the Scarlet Letter

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The Rose Bush in the Scarlet Letter

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At the end of chapter one, The Prison Door, there is a passage which describes a single rose bush next to the prison door. Although the author did give many interpretations of the rosebush’s meaning, there was no definite one. I decided to explore different interpretations. These roses would “offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner.” (42) These soft, red roses offer a small but bold contrast to the strict, black and white world of the puritans. The vibrant flowers give a splash of life to the monotonous, dreary scene. The roses can also be interpreted as a beacon of hope; the one last symbol of freedom and beauty before one is condemned to prison, a cold, heartless place. It’s almost as if the flowers wait for the prisoner to come back out because they “have been kept alive in history.” No matter how long the prisoner is in there, they can count on one thing in their life to still be there when they get out of jail. It also says that the scarlet colored rose is used “to symbolize a sweet moral blossom.” This is a little ironic because of the robe the Hester is forced to wear. Hester, an adulteress is considered to have no morals and is shamed into wearing this scarlet letter. The scarlet flower is supposed to be a symbol of morals and scarlet-letter-bearing Hester is thought of as the opposite of morals. Yet another way to look at the flowers in a more literal sense is that roses are beautiful, yet they have thorns all over them. It’s almost as if the rose represents lust, and the thorns are like the consequences. The rose can also represent Hester within her puritan world. She is the rebellious and beautiful, yet dangerous flower which is intriguing to the passerby, yet different from the rest of the surrounding world. Since the roots are planted in that soil, she feels the need to stay once she is released from prison. But she is awkward and alone in the only world she knows. She would rather stay and be rejected, then to go start...

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