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Major Themes And Symbols In "The Scarlet Letter".

1525 words - 6 pages

Major Themes and Symbols in The Scarlet LetterNathaniel Hawthorne uses unique examples for literary devices (symbolism, allusions, flashback, motif, etc.) but one extremely unique literary device Hawthorne uses is called the "multiple choice" technique. Terry Dibble explains that with this Hawthorne "casts doubt on his own story and suggests that an incident may have happened in quite a different way if at all." (The Scarlet Letter Notes pages 84-85) "The reader is therefore left to decide what is literally true. An appreciation of the literary value of the work can deepen the reader's understanding of the message."Symbolism is a very important device in the Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. According to Henry James, the famous American novelist, he believes the symbolism is overdone in the novel, though he does think that The Scarlet Letter was "In fact...a literary event of the first importance. The book was the finest piece of imaginative writing yet put forth in the country. There was a consciousness of this in the welcome given it - a satisfaction in the idea of America having produced a novel that belonged to literature, and to the forefront of it" (Hawthorne by Henry James- chapter 5). Throughout the book, Hawthorne used various kinds of symbolism. The symbols play very important factors that are used throughout the story. Hawthorne uses three scaffold scenes that are at the beginning, middle, and the end of the story the scaffold scenes are the most significant situations in the story because they unify The Scarlet Letter in two influential ways.First of all, every scaffold scene reunites the main characters of the novel. In the first scene, everyone in the town is gathered in the market place because Hester is being questioned about the identity of the father of her child. In her arms is Pearl and Dimmesdale is standing beside the scaffold because he is Hester's pastor and it is his job to try to her to repent and reveal the father's name. And a short time later, Chillingworth unexpectedly shows up within the crowd of people who are watching Hester. In the second scene, Dimmesdale is standing on top of the scaffold alone in the middle of the night. He sees Hester and Pearl walk through the market place on their way back from Governor Winthrop's bedside. When Dimmesdale recognizes them and tells them to join him, they walk up the steps to stand by his side and Chillingworth appears later beside the scaffold, watching at Dimmesdale, Hester, and Pearl. In the final scaffold scene, Dimmesdale walks to the steps of the scaffold in front of the whole town after his Election Day sermon. He tells Hester and Pearl to join him yet again on the scaffold. Chillingworth then runs through the crowd and tries to stop Dimmesdale from reaching the top of the scaffold, the one place where he can't reach him.Another way in which the scenes are united is how each illustrates the immediate and prolonged effects that the sin of adultery has on...

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