The Scarlet Letter Light Symbolism

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Don’t. Deny. This. Took. You. Longer. To. Read. Than. It. Should. Have. The light and the darkness, the good and the evil, symbolized perfectly in the novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne “The Scarlet Letter.” In The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne uses a lot of symbolism to make points about the world. Color and Light Images in The Scarlet Letter, an article written by Hyatt Howe Waggoner, shows that red is the most allusive symbolic color, sunlight means truth, goodness and revelation, whereas false light means evil, but what the article does not describe is the importance of the sunlight in Hester’s hair. Out of all the color symbolism red is the most equivocal and confusing of them all. Waggoner writes “Red is ambiguous throughout,…show more content…
Waggoner understands the symbolic importance of sunlight and makes sure to tell his readers what the symbolic meaning of sunlight is “Sunlight suggests truth and health. It is analogous to the Light of Revelation, which in Hawthorne’s scheme of values should ‘illume’ nature and to the light of grace.” (162-163) I agree, the sunlight is often used to show health and truth. In fact, There are also a few cases for when sunlight is used to show a revelation, for example during Mr. Dimmesdale's study room scene at the end of the book. However, there is another use of sunlight, one that can apply to most of the scenes in the book, and that is - holiness. Using the same example when Mr. Dimmesdale is writing his last speech it is not only a revelation but it is also holy. Pearl is seen having a radiating glow of sunlight, so she is pure, innocent, holy. The contrasting of holy light is the unnatural and unholy light. This is used to symbolize something evil or unholy “...there are also the ‘false light’ of meteors and the ‘red light of evil’” (163) It is obvious that the false light is the opposite of the sunlight. I have deduced that Hawthorne uses false light to be considered as holy light tainted, similarly to how a holy person would be tainted. The red A in the sky is believed by some to be a message for Dimmesdale, this…show more content…
What Waggoner says about Hester’s hair is, “Hester is seen as red (her letter and vivid complexion), gray (her dress), and black (her hair and eyes),... the last saved [her hair] from being wholly negative by the glints of sunlight often seen in her hair.” (pg. 163) I believe that it has more to do with the story; I infer it’s showing that Prynne still has some goodness in her, and that repenting her sin to the world has allowed some hope that she may still be good. When Hester repents, an important part of the story, Hester’s hair is described by Hawthorne as, “ glossy that it [her hair] threw off the sunshine with a gleam… how her beauty showne out, and made a halo of the misfortune and ignominy... ” (Hawthorne pg 37) The light being formed as a halo, and it being sunlight, means that it must have a significant meaning. Considering that sunlight means holiness, it must be that is Hawthorne showing us that because she has repented she has hope of being a holy person unlike Dimmesdale who hid his sin and suffered much tribulation for

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