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Symbolism In American Romantic Fiction. Essay

1749 words - 7 pages

American Romantic fiction is a trend in literature that is very much concerned with psychological subtlety, a sense of the mysteriousness of human motives, of the dark, hidden forces operating in the world and all this can be found in the works of such Romantic fiction writers as Poe, Hawthorne and Melville. Their works however, do not relate itself directly to the social scene but rather show a closer relationship with the romance. That is why they strongly rely on the symbolist technique and much of the symbolism can certainly be seen in such works as "The Scarlet Letter", " Billy Budd", "The Raven", and "The Fall of the House of Usher".To begin with, a wide variety of symbols is used in "The Scarlet Letter" written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The author illustrates here some aspects of nature, things and places. One of the symbols connected with nature is the forest. It symbolises the boarder between the human world and the society. It is shown as a gloomy and mysterious place where impulses and urges reign and where the events happening are to be kept secret. It is here where many of the pivotal characters reveal hidden thoughts and emotions and where Dimmensdale openly acknowledges Hester and his undying love for her. The thought of these two people having an intimate conversation in the confines of the society in which they live is incomprehensible. However, it is understood by the trees of the forest that unlike the people in town listen to welcome them. The trees act as if they were "telling the sad story of the pair that sat beneath, or constrained to forbode evil to come". The forest also brings out the natural appearance and personality of those within. When Hester takes off her cap and unloosens her hair, the reader is reintroduced to the light that for the woman was forgotten long ago. The sunlight, which previously shunned Hester, now seeks her out, and the forest seems to glow.Apart from the forest, also the scaffold has a symbolic meaning. It is a centre of criticism and represents redemption and judgement. The symbolism of the scaffold is shown in three scenes that take place on it. The first one is a sign of shame and punishment and it illustrates Hester who is sentenced to stand on the scaffold for three hours so that everyone can see her with the letter "A" on her bosom. She is shown as a very brave woman who is "a living sermon against sin". In scene two we see Dimmensdale who is on the scaffold to confess to God and ask for some kind of forgiveness. At the end, in scene three, salvation and victory is illustrated, as Dimmensdale is able to gain strength and courage to finally confess his sin to the masses.Symbolic meaning is also shown through the scarlet letter that Hester Pryne wears on her chest. It is a symbol of her sin but also of her and Dimmensdale's pain. Because of the letter, the woman becomes isolated and alienated from the entire town and its people."The Fall of the House of Usher" is also full of symbols that are...

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