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The Scarlet Letter

Create an overview of at least ten rhetorical devices.
by

Aubrey Krabill

on 7 February 2013

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Transcript of The Scarlet Letter

Rhetorical Devices The Scarlet Letter Allegory The device of using character and/or story elements symbolically to represent an abstraction in addition to the literal meaning. Allegory is used throughout this text, but is most evident in the daughter Pearl. She is used to symbolize purity and show how something so beautiful, such as a pearl, could come out of such an ugly shell, or situation, in this case. Pearl is one of many symbols in this book used to help characterize the Puritan religion as it is the cause of all the problems. This can open up the readers' eyes to see that the established strict rules could make inhabitants want to bring meaning to their
lives in more nontraditional ways. Asyndeton Consists of omitting conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses. "Lastly, in lieu of shifting scenes, came back the rude market place of the Puritan settlement, with all the townspeople assembled and levelling their stern regards at Hester Prynne- yes, at herself!- who stood on the scaffold of the pillory, an infant on her arm, and the letter "A" in scarlet, fantastically embroidered with gold thread, upon her bosom!" (Page 57) This statement closes off a passage where Hester was reminiscing on when she was a child and lived in the same little town with her mother and father. It serves to let the reader fall with her into the peace of her own mind and then immediately find themselves back on the stage in the middle of the market place. By using asyndeton here, the author gives the reader the feeling of rapid thoughts flooding back after a moment of quiet memories. Euphemism A more agreeable or less offensive substitute for a generally unpleasant word or concept. "...-so that men and women, who had been familiarly acquainted with Hester Prynne, were now impressed as if they beheld her for the first time- was that Scarlet Letter, so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom." (Page 52) The Scarlet Letter is not only a symbol to teach the people of Boston a lesson, but a euphemism. The letter "A" stands for "Adulterer", which is a nicer substitute for the title the townspeople gave Hester- brazen hussy. Chiasmus Chiasmus is a figure of speech in which two successive phrases or clauses are parallel in syntax, but reverse the order of the analogous words. There is a chiastic structure throughout this whole story, but a powerful example can be found between chapter 2 and chapter 24. In chapter 2, Hester is standing on the scaffold being condemned for her wrongdoing by the townspeople and the father of her child, whereas in chapter 24, the father of her child is standing on the scaffold condemning himself. This serves to show the reader that guilt can be haunting and that no matter what someone's rank in society is, a sin is a sin and they can never escape it. Erotesis Used for effect, emphasis, provocation, or drawing a conclusionary statement from the fact at hand, it is unanswered by the writer because the answer is obvious or desired. "But sometimes, once in many days, or perchance in many months, she felt an eye- a human eye- upon the ignominous brand, that seemed to give a momentary relief, as if half of her agony were shared. The next instant, back it all rushed again, with still a deeper throb of pain; for, in that brief interval, she had sinned anew. Had Hester sinned alone?" (Page 83) This passage from the book is a main idea from the story. The Puritan society had put such a harsh sentence on Hester by not only making her wear the Scarlet Letter, but by shunning only her and her daughter, that Hester, and maybe even the reader, start to ask the same thing. The question shows that maybe even Hester is so confused and lost that she doesn't know who the father of her own child is. Connotation The non-literal, associative meaning of a word; the implied, suggested meaning. Being a man lacking warmth, Roger Chillingworth is a connotation. He represents true evil. His twisted, stooped, deformed shoulders mirror his distorted soul. He was not a good husband to Hester and he expected a lot more from her than he deserved. He was unable to keep anyone close to him. She found love with Dimmesdale and Chillingworth's goal was to seek revenge on him. Chillingworth’s decision to assume the identity of a “leech,” or doctor, is fitting. His practice of medicine sometimes bordered witchcraft. Once Dimmesdale died, Chillingworth no longer had anyone to seek revenge on. Similarly, Dimmesdale’s revelation that he was Pearl’s father removes Hester from the old man’s clutches. Having lost the objects of his revenge, the leech has no choice but to die. Apostrophe A figure of speech that directly addresses an absent or imaginary person or a personified abstraction. It is an address to someone or something that cannot answer. "'Come away, mother! Come away, or yonder old Black Man will catch you!'" (Page 131) Just as the townspeople and Pearl think of the devil as an actual being, the Black Man, and describe him as such, so does Hester as she views herself with her own-self condemnation and harshness. This same entity has almost supreme control and power over the many characters of this book. Hester believes that because of her sin Pearl is the devil incarnate in her own daughter. She sees her as her ever-constant reminder of the transgressions which have put her in this situation. In a sense, the way she views the devil and her sins in her own daughter closely parallel the sins themselves. Shannon Sussman Aubrey Krabill Metonymy A figure of speech in which the name of one object is substituted for that of another closely associated with it. "We impute it, therefore, soley to the disease in its own eye and heart, that the minister, looking upward to the zenith, beheld there an appearance of an immense letter,-the letter A,- marking out in lines of dull red light...that another's guilt might have seen another symbol in it." (Page 152) The letter "A" that has been seen in the meteor shower represents the Scarlet Letter that Hester and maybe Dimmesdale has. It represents the guilt that the two of them feel; Hester for committing adultery and Dimmesdale for not admitting it. The "A" in the sky is a symbol to the characters to acknowledge their wrongdoings and take responsibility for what they had done. Juxtaposition When two words, phrases, images, or ideas are placed close together or side by side for comparison or contrast. "But on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rosebush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him." (Page 46) When the author begins the story by describing a hidden beauty like this outside of a place so dark and dank like the prison, the reader immediately questions the significance. In this case, the rose bush is used to represent that there is still beauty, even in those who are incarcerated and that there is goodness in people, such as Hester, who have sinned. Symbolism The use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities. "O, a story about the Black Man,"..."How he haunts this forest, and carries a book with him- a big, heavy book, with iron clasps; and how this ugly Black Man offers his book and an iron pen to everybody that meets him here among the trees; and they write their names with their own blood." (Page 181) The forest here symbolizes a place of evil, where the townspeople who practice witchcraft come to be alone. It is where evil things live, but also where what is hidden in the heart comes out. The forest is a place where the Puritans cannot judge or be nosy. A
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