Light And Dark Symbolism In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850), is a worthy allegorical novel in which a young woman commits the sin of adultery with a local pastor and gets pregnant, once the townspeople realize they punish her by forcing her to use the symbol of adultery. Light and dark symbolisms can be reduced easily to white and black, hence to good and bad. For Hawthorne, the interplay between white and black, or light and dark does not serve a mere imagery purpose or a descriptive one. They are entrenched profoundly with the intangible world. Hawthorne’s use of symbols in The Scarlet Letter serves as a mean to denounce the social behavior of the characters, such as the sinful soul of Hester Prynne, the troubled stand of Reverend Dimmesdale or the perverse…show more content…
Each individual theme previously analyzed might be depicted either by the means of light images and dark images, or by the color white or black. Regarding innocence, white is the color which is much associated with this attribute. For white is the lack of color it represents perfectly the lack of mischievous deeds and the predominance of purity. Moreover the strength and courage of the character is unveiled once she confronts the townspeople in the scaffold scene with her head held high, and thus her true good nature is brought forward. With reference to the theme of revenge it is depicted by means of darkness, since Chillingworth is the only character with true perverse nature, enough to be resembled with Satan. What is more, the darkest deed is the crime of passion committed by the lovers which induces a life of shame and alienation for Hester, and of secret torture and hypocrisy from Dimmesdale. Despite its efficiency, the author does not limit himself to the chiaroscuro technique to represent evil and goodness. The employment of the color red, both, as a symbol of love and integrity, or as one of vengeance fire and hell, might be identified along the lines of his
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