The Scarlet Letter Analysis with Motif

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1. “On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold-thread, appeared the letter A. It was so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it had all the effect of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel which she wore; and which was of a splendor in accordance with the taste of the age, but greatly beyond what was allowed by the sumptuary regulations of the colony” (Hawthorne 50).

This quote describes the most significant motif, the scarlet letter. It describes the complexity of the scarlet letter itself which foreshadows the numerous meaning the letter will have to various different people. This quote also suggests that the scarlet letter, being as beautiful as it is described, should be almost a luxury to wear, rather than a burden.

2. “As he spoke, he laid his long forefinger on the scarlet letter, which forthwith seemed to scorch on Hester’s breast, as if it had been red-hot. He noticed her involuntary gesture, and smiled. ’Live, therefore, and bear about thy doom with thee, in the eyes of men and women,-in the eyes of him whom thou didst call thy husband,-in the eyes of yonder child! And, that thou mayest live, take off this draught’” (Hawthorne 68).

This passage demonstrates the first of many meanings of motif, the scarlet letter. The meaning and concept described is the most basic and obvious meaning to the letter. The quote shows that the scarlet letter stands for adulterer. Although the meaning of the letter changes throughout the book, the original meaning for the A represents Hester’s punishment

3. “But did your reverence hear of the portent that was seen last night?-a great red letter in the sky,-the letter A which we interpret to stand for Angel. For as our good Governor Winthrop was made an angel this past night, it was doubtless held fit that there should be some notice thereof” (Hawthorne 145)....
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