Figurative Language In The Scarlet Letter

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The oxymoron of death and celebration often occurred in Puritan societies as Puritans viewed public punishment and executions as joyful entertainment. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne examines the concept of guilt and how it negatively affects the human soul. As he reveals a dark and gloomy Puritan society, Hawthorne introduces Hester Prynne, mother of young Pearl, who has recently committed adultery and is being publicly shamed for her punishment. Betwixt and hidden beneath this conflict, is Arthur Dimmesdale, Hester’s partner in crime, who struggles with the guilt of his sin. As the town begins to forgive Hester Prynne, Dimmesdale’s distraught soul causes his physical and mental health to decline. Hawthorne utilizes detailed characterization, …show more content…

While Dimmesdale and Hester are discussing how guilt and sin have affected them differently, Dimmesdale states, “‘Happy are you hester that wear the scarlet letter openly upon your bosom! Mine burns in secret!’” p 131. Dimmesdale compares the way Hester deals with her sin to the way he deals with his. Hester has be open about her sin to the point at which she reveals it on her bosom as the scarlet letter, whereas Dimmesdale keeps it in secret as the guilt boils up inside him. When Dimmesdale states it “burns in secret”, he is using a metaphor to describe how the guilt from his hidden sin is burning inside him and ruining his life. The guilt isn't literally burning inside of him, but the author uses figurative language here to describe the severity in which Dimmesdale's emotions are in. This guilt has progressive gotten worse the longer Dimmesdale has kept it in and the only thing he can do is reveal it. Lastly, Dimmesdale describes people struggling with guilt, while truly describing himself, as he states, “They go about among their fellow creatures, looking pure as new-fallen snow; while their hearts are all speckled and spotted with iniquity of which they cannot rid themselves” p 91. Although Dimmesdale is describing to Chillingworth what happens to people who struggling with guilt and sin, he is truly describing himself and what is happening to him. When Hawthorne states “looking pure as new-fallen snow”, he is showing how Dimmesdale who is struggling with guilt, displays himself to people who do not know his internal struggles. Once guilt has planted itself inside of its patient, it begins to overtake their life while they try to keep it together on the outside. Dimmesdale is a hypocrite when he does this because he truly is struggling with “spotted iniquity” that he cannot

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