Characterization Through Imagery And Metaphor In The Scarlet Letter

1284 words - 5 pages

Characterization through Imagery and Metaphor in The Scarlet Letter

 
      Throughout his novel, The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne reveals character through the use of imagery and metaphor.

 

In the first Chapter of The Scarlet Letter, "The Prison-Door", the reader is immediately introduced to the people of Puritan Boston. Hawthorne begins to develop the character of the common people in order to build the mood of the story. The first sentence begins, "A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes" (Hawthorne 45). Hawthorne's use of vivid visual images and his Aaccumulation of emotionally weighted details" (Baym xii) creates sympathy for the not yet introduced character, Hester Prynne, and creates an immediate understanding of the harshness of the Puritanic code in the people. The images created give the freedom to imagine whatever entails sadness and morbidity of character for the reader; Hawthorne does not, however, allow the reader to imagine lenient or cheerful people.

 

The above excerpt was provided so that the student would know the focus of the essay. The complete essay begins below.

 

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1804. After his graduation from Bowdoin College in Maine, he quickly became a well-known author of literary tales concerning early American life. Between 1825 and 1850, he developed his talent by writing short fiction, and he gained international fame for his fictional novel The Scarlet Letter in 1850 (Clendenning 118). Rufus Wilmot Griswold stated,

 

The frivolous costume and brisk action of the story of fashionable life are easily depicted by the practised sketcher, but a work like "The Scarlet Letter" comes slowly upon the canvas, where passions are coming led and overlaid with the masterly elaboration with which the grandest effects are produced in pictural composition and coloring. (Griswold 352)

 

Throughout his novel, The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne reveals character through the use of imagery and metaphor.

 

In the first Chapter of The Scarlet Letter, "The Prison-Door", the reader is immediately introduced to the people of Puritan Boston. Hawthorne begins to develop the character of the common people in order to build the mood of the story. The first sentence begins, "A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes" (Hawthorne 45). Hawthorne's use of vivid visual images and his Aaccumulation of emotionally weighted details" (Baym xii) creates sympathy for the not yet introduced character, Hester Prynne, and...

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