In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book, The Scarlet Letter, the phrase “Opposites Attract” does not always ring true. Such is the case between a young beauty and an aging scholar. Through Hawthorne’s use of figurative language and imagery, he creates a winter-spring relationship between the two characters Roger Chillingworth and Hester Prynne, which ultimately leads to Hester’s downfall.
The character Hester Prynne’s unparalleled youthful beauty and passionate nature makes her the perfect embodiment of spring. Early on in the text, Hawthorne says “She had dark and abundant hair, so glossy that it threw off the sunshine with a gleam, and a face which, besides being beautiful from regularity of feature and richness of complexion, . . .”(50) This picturesque description of Hester is used to not only to show her beauty, but also how her beauty is so fresh and vibrant. Her hair being described as “glossy and abundant” alludes to her spring-like qualities because in spring, all plants and creatures are new and plentiful in number. Hester’s position as being a new mother also makes her symbolic of spring, because both represent fertility and new life. Hawthorne even goes as far as saying “…with the infant at her bosom, an object to remind him of the image if Divine Maternity…” (53) Hawthorne using this comparison portrays Hester as being a perfect representation of fertility, almost to a god-like degree. It is Raven 2
unquestionable that spring is the most benign and gentle season. Hawthorne almost directly states that Hester is spring when he says, “…Hester’s nature showed itself warm and rich; a well-spring of human tenderness, un-failing to every real demand, and inexhaustible by the largest.”(146) This is why Hester’s demeanor and character also contributes to her embodying spring. Even by saying that her nature was warm, Hawthorne adds to Hester’s symbolism, because spring is the first season where warmth is introduced; the warm quality it possesses is also...
Cited: Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. 1850. New York: Bantam Dell, 2003. Print.
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