The Scarlett Letter Essay

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Alyissa Li Brown
Mrs. Dick
American Literature
October 19, 2012
The Many Shades of Red
The color red: it is beautiful, rich, and full of meaning. It represents many different things in today’s world such as love, danger, and revenge. Similarly, in the novel, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the color red is especially prominent. Color is important in this novel because every color has symbolic meaning behind it. This device of symbolism is used well in the novel, especially through the color red. It is the most important color because it is used the most, in the title of the book, and the color of the ‘A’. The color red symbolizes passion, shame and ultimately love.

In The Scarlet Letter, it begins with a detailed description of a rose bush which symbolizes Hester and her passion. Roses are obviously red so immediately, red is going to be a very important color. In the following quote, it describes the rose bush and how it represents Hester: “This rose bush by a strange chance, has been kept alive in history; but whether it had merely survived out of the stern old wilderness, so long after the fall of the gigantic pines and oaks that originally overshadowed it, - or whether, as there is fair authority for believing, it had sprung up under the footsteps of the sainted Ann Hutchinson, as she entered the prison-door, - we shall not take upon us to determine” (50). This is the first encounter with red. It is the description of a wild red rosebush growing outside the prison where Hester was imprisoned. This is representing Hester’s pride and passion, growing in a place not fitting; similar to how Hester’s passion did not fit in with the Puritan society. The soft, red roses offer a small but bold contrast to the strict, black and white world of the Puritans. She is the rebellious and beautiful, yet dangerous flower which is intriguing to the eye, yet different from the rest of the surrounding Puritan world of Boston.

Another time Hester shows...
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