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Scarlet Letter: Literary Techniques

  • Date Submitted: 03/14/2010 05:31 PM
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Literary Techniques: Scarlet Letter
By: Nathaniel Hawthorne

Priya Bajaj

AP English
Dr. Charles Peters
January 15, 2010

      In the “Scarlet Letter”, Nathaniel Hawthorne describes the main character’s consequence for sinning. Hawthorne uses many literary techniques to describe the agony Hester Prynne (the main character) experiences in the story. Some of these literary techniques include symbolism, characterization, imagery, juxtaposition, tone, diction, allegory, and syntax. However, the main literary techniques used are the first three: symbolism, characterization, and imagery.
      To briefly describe the plot of “The Scarlet letter”, the story takes place in a Puritan community in Boston, Massachusetts in the 17th Century. In the story, the main character (Hester Prynne) commits adultery with Reverend Dimmesdale (the minister of the Puritan community). He is also the secret father of their baby, Pearl. Because of this, Prynne is forced to wear a scarlet letter “A” for adultery on the breast of her gown. Her husband disguises himself as a man named Roger Chillingworth and wants to get revenge on Reverend Dimmesdale. He doesn’t reveal himself at first. Hester threatens him to reveal himself to the community, since he tortures Dimmesdale physically and psychologically. He eventually tells the town that he is Prynne’s husband and Dimmesdale dies due to heart problems. Chillingworth dies in the end, as well.
    The first main event in the story is when the townspeople of the Puritan community become aware that Hester has committed adultery. Hawthorne uses symbolism to describe the letter “A” on the breast of Hester’s gown. “In fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A. It was also artistically done , and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy…It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and inclosing her in a sphere...


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