The Scarlet Letter (Colors)

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Essay: The Scarlet Letter-Colors

Throughout the novel, “The Scarlet Letter,” Nathaniel Hawthorne illustrates the themes with various dramatic colors. Of the array are the colors green and gold, where green symbolizes different aspects of nature such as tranquility, security, and gloominess, whereas gold represents all that pertains to luxuriance, serenity and goodness. In certain chapters, it seems as if one color is codependent with the other.

The implication of the color green was most abundant in chapter sixteen, where Hawthorne used much description to depict the dreariness within the woods, yet adding a sense of security to it all. “Here they sat down on a luxuriant heap of moss, which, at some epoch of the preceding century, had been a gigantic pine, with its root and trunk in the darksome shade…” (177) There is, apparently, plenty of references to the color green. Not only does green represent nature in general, its reference to the forest is also the very depiction of freedom. Nobody watches in the woods to report misbehavior, thus it is here that people may do as they wish.

The color gold is of dominance in this novel. It is used frequently to describe richness and luxuriance. “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.’” (60) However, it carries an even more important reference to the sun in chapter sixteen, the sun also symbolizing guilt-free happiness. Pearl seems to absorb the sunlight while it flees from Hester and her mark of sin. In chapter eighteen, the two colors, green and gold, intertwines and implicates pure serenity. Amidst the green, lush forest, Hester takes the letter off her bosom and instantly transforms into a new person, a person finally revealing herself from under a shield of shame. The sunlight, which had previously shunned her, now seeks her out as the...
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