Amberly Green November 30, 2007 The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter.

New York: Amsco School Publications, Inc., 1970. Quote 1. “The door of the jail being flung open from within, there appeared, in the first place, like a black shadow emerging into the sunshine, the grim and grisly presence of the town-beadle, with a sword by his side and his staff of office in his hand.” (Hawthorne 43) Paraphrase or Summary When the jail door opened, there first emerged, like a dark silhouette and broke through into daylight. It was a harsh and gruesome appearance of the town official, armed with a weapon on his side. Rhetorical Strategy Simile Effect of Function Hawthorne’s comparison of the town official to a “black shadow emerging into the sunshine” paints a clear picture of the seriousness of the issue before the town. Because adultery was such a shameful act, the town officer had to condemn Hester with a very harsh punishment. The dark shadow represents the dark sin committed and the even darker punishment that Hester is to receive. It is ironic that despite Hester’s appalling and disgraceful act of sin, a beautiful and artistic “A” is a token of her punishment. This contradiction heightens the shame placed upon Hester.

2. “It was so artistically done, and with so must fertility and gorgeous abundance of fancy, that it had all the effect of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel which she wore; and which was of splendor in accordance with the taste of the age, but greatly beyond what was allowed by the sumptuary regulations of the colony.”

The scarlet letter that Hester wears on her chest is very beautiful and intricately sewn. The decorative “A” was to last and must always be worn. It was superior over other clothes of the day and far ahead of what was acceptable of the fashion of the settlement.



(Hawthorne 44) 3. A writhing horror twisted itself across his features, like a snake gliding swiftly over them, and making one little pause, with all its wreathed intervolutions in open sight.” (Hawthorne 50-51)

A painful terror warped itself along his skin, like a serpent sliding quickly over them, and pausing, with its creases and bends exposed for everyone to see.


4. “To say the truth, there was much need of professional assistance, not merely for Hester herself, but still more urgently for the child; who, drawing its sustenance from the maternal bosom, seemed to have drank in with it all the turmoil, the anguish, and despair, which pervaded the mother’s system. It now writhed in convulsions of pain, and with forcible type, in its little form, of moral agony which Hester Prynne had born throughout the day. (Hawthorne 59) 5. “—Live therefore, and bear about thy doom with thee, in the eyes of men and women,--in the eyes of his whom thou didst call the husband,-in the eyes of yonder child!” (Hawthorne 61)

Truthfully, Hester and especially Pearl needed specialized help. Pearl’s nourishment came from her mother. Along with her food, the child drank all of the torment, suffering, and misery which permeated through Hester’s body. Now, it was twisted in tremors of hurt and aggressively in its small shape of honest pain, the child was born.

Hester and her husband have made eye contact. This comparison is between Rodger Chillingworth (her husband) and a snake. Snakes are commonly crafty and rouge. This comparison shows the readers that Chillingworth, like a snake, is likely sneak around and attack whoever has slept with his wife. Strong diction: The strong diction used by turmoil, anguish, Hawthorne in this sentence despair, convulsions conveys to the reader the of pain, moral agony suffering both Hester and Pearl endured. Hester and her child need more than physical help. Not only did Pearl receive nourishment from her mother, the child also consumed pain and agony from Hester. Both needed cleansing from the inward turmoil that constantly tore inside of them. Anaphora Asyndeton Hawthorne’s parallel phrases beginning with “in” and his omission of conjunctions, replaced with “—“ further heighten the shame Hester must endure. Anyone Hester will ever

Chillingworth is telling his wife (Hester) to live and to accept her judgment with him before everyone.


6. “No matter whether of love or hate; no matter whether of right or wrong! Thou and thine, Hester Prynne, belong to me. My home is where thou art, and where he is. But betray me not!” (Hawthorne 64)

It does not matter if you love me or if you hate me; it does not matter whether it is wrong or right. Hester Prynne, you are mine and you belong to me. Do not be disloyal to me!

Parallelism Steady beat Rhyme

7. “Were it God’s will…I could be well content, that my labors, and my sorrows, and my sins, and my pains, should shortly end with me, and what is earthly of them be buried in my grave, and the spiritual go with me to my eternal state, rather than that you should put your skill to the proof in my behalf.” (Hawthorne 104) 8. “And I conceive, moreover, that the hearts holding such miserable secrets as you speak of will yield them up, at that day, not with reluctance, but with a joy unutterable.” (Hawthorne 113)

“If it were in God’s plans… I would Parallelism be happily satisfied, that my hard Polysyndeton work, and my sadness, and my transgression, and my hurt, will soon finish with me, and all the worldly things taken to my grave, and my spirit follow me for eternity, rather than you healing me. Additionally, I imagine that the mind’s keeping such wretched secrets as you take will willingly surrender at that time with an unspeakable happiness. Foreshadowing

encounter will know about her dark past. Chillingworth is clearly explaining that her sin cannot and will not hide. The steady beat of the sentence represents the steady life that a husband and wife should lead together. Chillingworth is upset that his wife betrayed him and his word choice shows that. The short, exclamatory sentence at the end set Chillingworth’s angry tone. Hawthorne’s parallel phrases, connected with conjunctions, combine all of Dimmesdale’s unwanted earthly belongings. All add up and pile onto one another, ending in Dimmesdale’s death.

Because Dimmesdale is a minister and a respectable man of the day, he feels he cannot reveal his secret. If he exposes his dark sin, he will no longer be respectable and will be a hypocrite. Dimmesdale is hinting to Chillingworth that he will not


9. “Rodger Chillingworth, however, was inclined to be hardly, if at all, less satisfied with the aspect of affairs, which Providence—using the avenger and his victim for its own purposes, and perchance, pardoning, where it seems most to punish—had substituted for his black devices.” (Hawthorne 121) 10. “Your clutch is on his life, and you cause him to die daily a living death; and still he knows you not.” (Hawthorne 149)

Chillingworth was prone to not be pleased with relationships. Fate— using the punisher and his sufferer for his own intention, and perhaps, forgiving, where it needs to be punished the most—had replaced his dark strategies.

Alliteration Personification

You have a hold on Dimmesdale’s life and you are the reason he suffers daily; and yet he still dose not know your real identity.


11. “There is no good for him,--no good for me,--no good for thee! There is no good for little Pearl!

Nothing good will come for Dimmesdale, for me, for you, or for Pearl! No course will direct our

Parallelism Anaphora Asyndeton

keep his secret forever, but will “[joyously]” confess his transgression. The “p” words in this sentence add emphasis to Hawthorne’s strong diction and to the words he wants to be stressed. By capitalizing “Providence” and referring to it as “him,” Hawthorne gives the word human characteristics and the word becomes dominant over others. Hawthorne’s use of oxymoron (“living death”) shows that Dimmesdale can not escape his sin, so he must live with the knowledge of it everyday. Chillingworth’s presence in Dimmesdale’s life is a constant reminder of the wretched sin he committed. Even though Dimmesdale does not know that Chillingworth is Hester’s husband, Chillingworth is still a torment to him and reminds him daily of the inescapable reality. Dimmesdale is in a trap. Hawthorne’s successive phrases mimic the maze Chillingworth and Hester stumble through. Just


There is no path to guide us out of this dismal maze!” (Hawthorne 151)

steps out of this gloomy, convoluted mess!

as the phrases continuously repeat each other, Chillingworth and Hester will forever be stuck in disarray.


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