Analyze Hawthornes Rhetorical Strategies

Topics: The Scarlet Letter, Puritan, Nathaniel Hawthorne Pages: 2 (681 words) Published: January 26, 2012
The Scarlet Letter Essay

In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, the author, Nathaniel Hawthorne depicts major themes of the book through usage of various symbols. By utilizing symbolism, Hawthorne portrays humanity’s disposition towards those rejected by society and the effects of being an outcast, along with other various meanings conveyed in Hawthorne’s novel. The most obvious symbol, and the most important, is the scarlet letter that Hester is burdened to wear due to her conviction of adultery. Such symbols convey an intriguing message of hypocrisy that lies beyond the naked eye.

Through his use of symbolism, a hidden message portraying hypocrisy is revealed line after line. Early in the novel, as the crowd awaits Hester to emerge, Hawthorne vividly describes a prison in which the puritan disciplinary system is symbolized. Hawthorne writes that “...whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness”(Hawthorne 45) the founders hoped to achieve, but “Hawthorne deflates the tradition of American dreams of Utopia and new social orders”(Pearl) by pointing out that both a cemetery and a prison were among the first structures to be built. However, Puritan society is based on religious enlightenment, yet despite their morals, the first structure to be built in Boston was a prison, a place of punishment, darkness, and sin. Puritan morals expect tranquility within the society and to surely repress sin, but by building a prison, they almost antagonize sin to be committed as the prison proves to be “...borne the black flower of civilized society...” (Hawthorne 46). The prison symbolizes corrupt society plagued by hypocrisy within the religious system as it defies puritan beliefs of a sin-free environment by bringing darkness upon social life in Boston. Hawthorne brings light upon the darkness by contrasting the prison with a rose bush that “....had merely survived out of the stern old wilderness, so long after the fall of the gigantic pines and oaks that originally...
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