Juxtaposition In The Prison Door

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In “The Prison Door,” the tones of sarcasm and hope, along with Hathorne’s skewed third person omniscient perspective replicate Nathaniel Hawthorne’s opinion of the Puritan settlement. The point of starting out the passage with an introduction to the budding settlement is to contrast their intentions with their actions. The prison door demonstrates the oppressive nature of the colony, while the rose encapsulates the beliefs of freedom and respect for plurality—all things denounced in the new-old settlement. Nathaniel Hawthorne uses details, diction, and organization to further emphasize the hypocrisy in the new colony’s actions and his own hopes and ideals.
Hawthorne utilizes juxtaposition and symbolism to accentuate the outdated practices …show more content…

When first referencing the “new colony,” Hawthorne uses words such as, “Utopia of human virtue and happiness” (Hawthorne). However, he then proceeds to describe the new colony and its establishments as “dark,” “gloomy,” “antique,” “ugly edifice,” and “the black flower of civilized society” (Hawthorne). His contradicting words juxtapose the desired utopia of the puritans and the actual reality of their community. Hawthorne uses this contrast to poke fun at the society. Furthermore, his point of view is exactly what it suggests: his hope for a change. While describing the muddled community, Hawthorne notes the wild rose bush growing outside the prison as an “[offering],” to the doomed prisoners. He also suggests the flowers sprung up beneath the feet of the “sainted Anne Hutchinson.” His specific vocabulary suggests that these flowers are a symbol of opposition because they emerged from a “saint” like Anne Hutchinson who challenged Puritan standards. Not only that but these holy flowers are also offering hope and grace to prisoners condemned by the new colony. Hawthorne’s dictation at this point projects the idea that these prisoners are not at all guilty of a horrible crime and deserve to feel hope from a “delicate gem” and not be persecuted in the “black flower of civilized society.” A flower not controlled by religion …show more content…

In the beginning, Hawthorne sets the story up by establishing the new colony and the “throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and other bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes” (Hawthorne). He then points a sarcastic finger at the fact that “The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison” (Hawthorne). The transition from the colony’s beginning to its ugly blemish conveys the town’s natural progression into not a “Utopia,” but an overbearing and judgemental society. Hawthorne takes a great portion of the passage to criticize their vision of a perfect community culminating in the crowds of people standing before the prison as if entranced in a catatonic stupor. Hawthorne ends the passage with a hopeful outlook: “But on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rose-bush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be

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