Scarlet Letter's Use Of Symbolism To Show Psychological Effects Of Sin.
"The act gross and brief, and brings loathing after it." This was .
said by St. Augustine, regarding immorality. This is discovered to be very .
true by the main characters in The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne's .
story of a woman (Hester) who lives with the Puritans and commits adultery .
with the local minister (Dimmesdale). In his novel, Hawthorne shows that .
sin, known or unknown to the community, isolates a person from their .
community and from God. He shows us this by symbols in nature around .
the town, natural symbols in the heavens, and nature in the forest. .
First we see two symbols in the town that show how sin isolates people. .
In the first chapter we see a plant which stands out, "But on one side of the .
portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rosebush, covered .
with its delicate gems" (Hawthorne). This rosebush is like Hester, for it .
too stands out as wild and different. She wears her scarlet letter among the .
solemnly dressed Puritans as this rosebush wears its scarlet blossoms .
amidst a small plot of grass and weeds. They both stand separate from their .
surroundings. Later in the book we hear a conversation between .
Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth (Hester's unknown husband). They are .
discussing the origin of a strange dark plant that Chillingworth discovered. "I .
found them growing on a grave which bore no tombstone, nor other memorial .
of the dead man, save these ugly weeds that have taken upon themselves to .
keep him in remembrance. They grew out of his heart, and typify some .
hideous secret that was buried with him- (Hawthorn). Here we have .
a special case of one who was not discovered by men to have sinned during .
their lifetime. However, having avoided punishment in life, this person has .
been isolated in death. This person tried to keep wrongdoing a secret, hiding .
it within himself. Yet the sins committed could not be kept secret, .