Symbolism of the letter a pearl and dimmesdale in nathaniel hawthornes scarlet letter

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Symbolism of the letter a pearl and dimmesdale in nathaniel hawthornes scarlet letter

The reader is thus invited to consider the whole story as a progressive uncovering of the "truth" of a symbol that constitutes one of the most enigmatic elements of American literature.

Critics over the years focused on this search for a hidden significance, and put forward their own interpretation of this "truth. Instead of offering my own A-word as a key to understanding Nathaniel Hawthorne's masterpiece, I would like to focus on the notion of symbol itself, and on the way the author organizes this search for a meaning.

The narrator frequently uses this word throughout the romance, and its various occurrences enable us to shape a definition that corresponds to his personal use of symbols. From this starting point, I would like to show how Hawthorne stages the interpretative process within The Scarlet Letter, and how this provides keys for the reader on how to read them.

The word "symbol" and its meaning in The Scarlet Letter First, I would like to provide a few basic elements on the definitions of allegory and symbol as I will use them in this analysis.

Starting from that definition, Poe's analysis of Hawthorne's works as "allegorical" can be qualified, especially in The Scarlet Letter in which Hawthorne blatantly refuses some key aspects of an allegorical mode of representation.

I will try to demonstrate that the scarlet "symbol," as well as its full-fledged equivalent Pearl, pertains on the contrary to a symbolic mode of representation. Both partake of the creation of a spiritual meaning, and enable the author to provide several layers of interpretation.

Symbolism of the letter a pearl and dimmesdale in nathaniel hawthornes scarlet letter

The distinction between the two figures appeared later and was shaped mainly by German romantics. The distinction between symbol and allegory can be organized around three main points. The two elements remain distinct and the object's sole function is to suggest the secondary meaning.

Justice as a blindfold woman carrying scales and a sword can be used as an example to clarify matters.

Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter

The woman does not exist at the first level of understanding; she does not have a name or a personal history. Using such an image only aims at indirectly referring to the abstract idea of justice which exists outside of such a representation.

On the other hand, the symbol has a syncretic value: The interpretation of allegory is finite, whereas that of symbol is infinite. The blindfold woman represents the concept of justice, and that figure could be replaced by the concept without losing any meaningful element.

On the contrary, if a symbol is assigned one definite meaning, some of its reality as a literary object is ignored. Understanding allegories requires cultural knowledge, whereas the comprehension of symbol is intuitive. One must learn what the blindfold woman stands for, or to guess one must reflect upon her various attributes and relate them to the cultural idea of justice.

The figure does not appeal to sensitivity, and emotions are not part of the understanding process. Hawthorne's definition should be set within the theoretical debate opposing allegory and symbol that first appeared in Goethe's works.

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Hawthorne's knowledge of German, although limited according to his wife, enables us to assume that he was at least acquainted with these theories. Moreover, the question of understanding symbols is largely common among intellectuals at the time, since Champollion's discovery of the meaning of hieroglyphs had a great impact on various authors of the American Renaissance.

According to John Irwin, Champollion isolated a series of signs that could not be deciphered and that are tantamount to the symbolic signs per se; these "anaglyphs" correspond to the lost wisdom of the Egyptians.

Starting from that definition, I would first like to show that the scarlet letter is endowed with many characteristics pertaining to a symbolic mode.

This contribution aims to describe how, in The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne ventured far into the realm of romantic symbol, discovered the ambiguities and uncertainties related to such a mode of expression, and attempted at providing a number of answers to the problems he encountered.

However, it is far from certain that he considered these answers as satisfactory. I would like to submit the hypothesis that this is the reason why Hawthorne abandoned such a mode and returned to a more classic allegorical mode, at least up to the unfinished undertaking known as The Elixir of Life Manuscripts.Whereas the Puritans translated such rituals into moral and repressive exercises, Hawthorne turns their interpretations around in The Scarlet Letter.

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The Puritan community sees Hester as a fallen woman, Dimmesdale as a saint, and would have seen the disguised Chillingworth as a . Symbols and Symbolism in Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter - The Symbol of Pearl - The Symbol of Pearl In Nathaniel Hawthorne's, The Scarlet Letter, Pearl, is the human symbol of the sin of adultery in the fact that she leads her mother, Hester Prynne, and Arthur Dimmesdale to accept and admit to their sin.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is generally considered to be the first American symbolic novel. A symbol is something which is used to represent something broader in meaning. The most obvious symbol in the novel is the actual scarlet 'A' which both the criticism and I agree upon.

Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter

This 'A' is the literal symbol of the sin of adultery.5/5(5). Symbols and Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Words | 5 Pages Symbols in The Scarlet Letter In nearly every work of literature, readers can find symbols that represent feelings, thoughts or ideas within the text.

Character Analysis of Pearl in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Word Count Includes Outline at the End of the Paper The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a book of much symbolism. One of the most complex and misunderstood symbols in the book is Pearl, the illegitimate daughter of Hester Prynne and Reverend Arthur .

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a story about love and guilt. Written way ahead of its time and set in Puritan era Boston, this is a story about a woman, Hester Prynne, who lives her life like a criminal, yet never ceases to do as much good as she can.

Symbolism of the letter a pearl and dimmesdale in nathaniel hawthornes scarlet letter
SparkNotes: The Scarlet Letter: Themes