Major Themes and Symbols in "The Scarlet Letter".

Essay by sunsetangel12High School, 11th gradeA, September 2003

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Major Themes and Symbols in The Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel 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...