The Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Letter: Syntax Essay

In this excerpt of The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne brilliantly combines punctuation, sentence formation, and sentence length to describe the peculiar Roger Chillingworth and his business in the isolated town of Salem as a mystery that the townsfolk have been hypothesizing about since arrival. To start off, Hawthorne cleverly uses punctuation to question Roger Chillingworth’s arrival. Over the course of the excerpt, Hawthorne used question marks to build the curiosity of the meaning behind Chillingworth’s presence. For example, sentence five and six from the excerpt brings up the question of why Chillingworth, a man of valuable talent and wisdom, would end up in a rural area instead of in the cities making a fortune. Hawthorne also used an exclamation mark in sentence seven to enlarge a coincidence that Chillingworth agreed to invest all of his time and energy for the sick and tormented Reverend Dimmesdale. It is ironic because out of all people in town, Chillingworth chooses Reverend Dimmesdale as his full time patient. In addition, Hawthorne used dashes in sentence four to emphasize the fact that Chillingworth coincided with very intelligent people like Sir Kenelm Digby, which makes his existence in an isolated town more ironic. Besides the punctuation, Hawthorne also has a unique sentence pattern that runs from the beginning to the end of the excerpt. Hawthorne started off with compound-complex sentences to communicate with the reader directly about Chillingworth’s impact in town. As the excerpt progresses, the sentences then shift into interrogative sentences as an attempt to question the true meaning of why Chillingworth came to Salem. It also adds a feeling to the reader, as if Hawthorne is directly talking to you and explaining his reasoning of Chillingworth’s appearance. By the end of the excerpt, Hawthorne used an exclamatory sentence along with dashes to emphasize the craziness of the rumors that have...
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