The Scarlet Letter: Symbolism

Topics: The Scarlet Letter, Symbolism, Symbol Pages: 2 (787 words) Published: October 1, 2012
Chapter 1 and 2: symbolism

Symbolism is a major technique within Hawthorne's novel. The symbols portrays sufficient information about the themes of society, sin and the individual which informs us about the effects of Puritan law. Society:

In chapter 1 Puritan society is immediately depicted as harsh through the subtle symbolism of the prison door which was 'studded with iron spikes'. Also the 'bearded men' in 'sad coloured garments' illustrates a morbid aura. The mention of 'cemetery' in this passage and the 'churchyard' gives a clear indication of a society run by a inflexible and rigid ideology as 'cemetery' evokes issues like death and the hereafter and the 'churchyard' reperesents religion. Chapter 2 exemplfies a harsh community quite conspicuously, the public reaction is horrific to the reader. The harsh women are symbolic of an unpleasant society which presents the females as the harshest judges, one which openly claims that she has brought 'shame upon us all and ought to die' for that reason. Hawthorne seems to be disgusted by such women and even degrades them by asscoiating them to 'ugly' and 'pitiless' individuals. Another one is described as 'hard-featured', these hold negative connotations and present women as unsympathetic as a whole. Hawthorne seems to be stressing that women are the harshest judges in society. The symbol of the scaffold in chapter 2 is one which represents a base of great humiliation on hesters part, Hawthorne criticises society for having such 'right' to judge someone elses deed and how it is inhuman to expose someone at that degree of shame. Society seems to point its fingers at others before itself.

There is a sense of sin when the symbolism and foreshadowing of 'vrigin soil as a cemetery' is mentioned in chapter 1. It is ironic as Hester will not die as a virgin and has in fact committed adultery. The rose bush is an interesting symbol of passion and love as the 'rose' illustrates, it was the...
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