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Juxtaposition In The Scarlet Letter

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Gunnar Wilson

on 30 January 2013

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Transcript of Juxtaposition In The Scarlet Letter

Juxtaposition In The Scarlet Letter Nature and Puritanism Public and Private
Confession Golden Thread
Scarlet Letter Dimmesdale and Chillingworth Forest and Sunlight In the Scarlet Letter, nature is juxtaposed with Puritanism. Nature, although hesitant to accept people who are sinful, is willing to forgive, whereas, Puritanism is known for its strict and merciless way of dealing with sin. "The founders of the new colony... 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 sight of a prison." (Example of Puritanism- chapter 1, page 1)

"'Now I can stretch out my hand, and grasp some of it.' As she attempted to do so, the sunshine vanished..." (Example of nature's forgiveness- chapter 16, page 126) Public confession is repeatedly juxtaposed with private confession because many characters struggle with which one is the correct way to repent one's sins. In the Scarlet Letter, the red "A" that Hester is forced to wear represents sin and judgement. The gold thread that surrounds it is a heavenly color, and therefore could symbolize forgiveness and beauty. Hester tells Pearl that she wears the "A" because of the beauty of the gold thread. "'Silly Pearl,' said she, 'what questions are these? There are many things in this world that a child must not ask about. What know I of the minister's heart? And as for the scarlet letter, I wear it for the sake of the gold thread.'" (chapter 15) "There can be, if I forebode aright, no power, short of the devine mercy, to disclose, whether by uttered words, or by type of emblem, the secrets that may be buried with a human heart. The heart making itself guilty of such secrets, must perforce hold them, until the day when all hidden things should be revealed." (Chapter 10, page 90) -Dimmesdale

"These men deceive themselves." (Chapter 10, page 90) Dimmesdale and Chillingworth and juxtaposed as characters because they're almost direct oposites. Chillingworth: The people of the Massachusetts Bay Colony first perceived him to be a miracle sent to them. "Heaven had wrought an absolute miracle, by transporting an eminent Doctor of Physic, from a German university..." (Chapter 9, Page 83). After this, their views of him change and he was viewed as "haunted either by Satan himself, or Satan's emissary, in the guise of old Roger Chillingworth." (Chapter 9, Page 88)
Chillingworth represents darkness. "When strangers looked curiously at the scarlet letter... they branded it afresh into Hester's soul." (Page 79) "And having also the passes of the dark, inscrutable forest open to her, where the wildness of her nature might assimilate itself with a people whose customs and life were alien from the law that had condemned her." (Chapter 5) Dimmesdale: Dimmesdale is widely respected throughout his community as a "young clergyman". He speaks out and stands for public confession, although he himself refuses to publicly confess his sins. "Speak thou for me! Thou wast my pastor, and hadst charge of my soul and knowst me better than these men can." (Chapter 8, Page 77) In the Scarlet Letter, the forest is symbollic of isolation, deception, and sin. The sunlight represents purity and innocence, which is why it runs away when Hester tries to touch it, but Pearl is able to absorb it, but it is also forgiving. "The decision once made, a glow of strange enjoyment threw its flickering brightness over the trouble of his breast. It was an exhilerating effect-upon a prisoner just escaped from the dungeon of his own heart- of breathing the wild, free atmosphere of an unredeemed, unchristianized, lawless region... 'Do I feel joy again?'" (Chapter 18, Page 138) The END Thank You Ms. Lichius!
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