Scarlet Letter

Josh Rogan
Mr. Evans
English Honors
25 January 2010
Nathaniel Hawthorne's masterful use of symbolism is employed many times throughout The Scarlet Letter. We are quickly introduced to Hawthorne's symbolism in the very first chapter, with both the prison door and the rosebush. In chapter two we are introduced to, arguably the two most important symbols in this novel, the scarlet letter and the scaffold. These two symbols appear over and over throughout the novel, and continue to advance the plot along with creating deeper conflicts throughout the novel. The scarlet letter's meaningchanges throughout the novel from adulterer to awe with different meanings in between. The scaffold's meaning also changes throughout the novel from isolation and humiliation to Dimmesdale's feeling of near comfort. Pearl also becomes a symbol herself in the novel by becoming a living embodiment of her mother's scarlet letter. The meteor the Dimmesdale sees when he is standing upon the meteor also is a symbol that has dual meanings because Dimmesdale interprets in his own way that differs from the rest of the community.Throughout the novel Hawthorne continues to shows his skill with his use of symbolism.
In Chapter One of the Scarlet letter we are introduced to Hawthorne's use of symbolism. Hawthorne in chapter one states "The [prison] door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes"(54). The prison door is a symbol of puritan punishment and authority which is evident in Hawthorne's description, which included heavy timber and iron spikes. It also symbolizes loneliness and detachment from the rest of the world which is clear in Hawthorne's description "black flower of civilized society"(55). The rosebush also makes its first appearance in the novel in chapter one. It is surviving next to the prison which shows that beauty is able to survive despite the worst conditions that man creates. It also takes pity on the prisoners entering and exiting the...