Jane Richardson Posted date:
Generally speaking, a symbol is something used to stand for something else. In literature, a symbol is most often a concrete object used to represent an idea more abstract and broader in scope and meaning — often a moral, religious, or philosophical concept or value.
An allegory in literature is a story where characters, objects, and events have a hidden meaning and are used to present some universal lesson. Hawthorne has a perfect atmosphere for the symbols in The Scarlet Letter because the Puritans saw the world through allegory.
For them, simple patterns, like the meteor streaking through the sky, became religious or moral interpretations for human events.
Objects, such as the scaffold, were ritualistic symbols for such concepts as sin and penitence. Whereas the Puritans translated such rituals into moral and repressive exercises, Hawthorne turns their interpretations around in The Scarlet Letter.
The Puritan community sees Hester as a fallen woman, Dimmesdale as a saint, and would have seen the disguised Chillingworth as a victim — a husband betrayed. Instead, Hawthorne ultimately presents Hester as a woman who represents a sensitive human being with a heart and emotions; Dimmesdale as a minister who is not very saint-like in private but, instead, morally weak and unable to confess his hidden sin; and Chillingworth as a husband who is the worst possible offender of humanity and single-mindedly pursuing an evil goal.
Thus, using his characters as symbols, Hawthorne discloses the grim underside of Puritanism that lurks beneath the public piety.
Examples of static symbols are the Reverend Mr. Wilson, who represents the Church, or Governor Bellingham, who represents the State.
His characters, the scarlet A, light and darkness, color imagery, and the settings of forest and village serve symbolic purposes. Characters Hester is the public sinner who demonstrates the effect of punishment on sensitivity and human nature.
She is seen as a fallen woman, a culprit who deserves the ignominy of her immoral choice. The paradox is that the Puritans stigmatize her with the mark of sin and, in so doing, reduce her to a dull, lifeless woman whose characteristic color is gray and whose vitality and femininity are suppressed.
When she meets Dimmesdale in the forest in Chapter 18, Hawthorne says, "The tendency of her fate and fortunes had been to set her free. The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread.
Often human beings who suffer great loss and life-changing experiences become survivors with an increased understanding and sympathy for the human losses of others. Hester is such a symbol. Dimmesdale, on the other hand, is the secret sinner whose public and private faces are opposites.
Even as the beadle — an obvious symbol of the righteous Colony of Massachusetts — proclaims that the settlement is a place where "iniquity is dragged out into the sunshine," the colony, along with the Reverend Mr. Inside the good minister, however, is a storm raging between holiness and self-torture.
He is unable to reveal his sin.
At worst, Dimmesdale is a symbol of hypocrisy and self-centered intellectualism; he knows what is right but has not the courage to make himself do the public act.Plot Overview. Hester Prynne is the heroine of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet skybox2008.com it is her name that most people think of first, the character of Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale.
Hawthorne has a perfect atmosphere for the symbols in The Scarlet Letter because the Puritans saw the world through allegory. For them, simple patterns, like the meteor streaking through the sky, became religious or moral interpretations for human events.
The Scarlet LetterArthur Dimmesdale Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, a main character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, proves to be a sinner against man, against God and most importantly against himself because he has committed adultery with Hester Prynne, resulting in an illegitimate child, Pearl.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Home / Literature / The Scarlet Hester isn't the only one with a symbol on her chest; Dimmesdale has one, too. In blood. But we can't quite figure this mark out. The Black Man is a euphemism for Satan in this book: Hester considers the scarlet letter A to be the Black Man's mark, and Pearl.
One really cannot understand Dimmesdale or his dilemma without at least a cursory understanding of the Puritans who inhabited Boston at this time (see the essay "The Puritan Community" in the Critical Essays) and Hawthorne's psychological perspective through which he presents this tragic character.
Hester Prynne - Hester is the book’s protagonist and the wearer of the scarlet letter that gives the book its skybox2008.com letter, a patch of fabric in the shape of an “A,” signifies that Hester is an “adulterer.” As a young woman, Hester married an elderly scholar, Chillingworth, .