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Colors Motif

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tommy cantwell

on 4 November 2014

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Transcript of Colors Motif

"All at once, as with a sudden smile of heaven, forth burst the sunshine, pouring a very flood into the obscure forest, gladdening each green leaf, transmuting the yellow fallen ones to gold, and gleaming adown the gray trunks of the solemn trees"
The Shades of Life: Normality, Contrast, and Truth
Tommy Cantwell, Shyam Bhagat, Dan Measer, Jonathan Chen

The color gray is associated with old age, decay, shadows, and darkness
Gules (
Throughout the ages, different cultures have had different interpretations of colors

Sable -
In China, the colors
represent wealth and good fortune
-Shows contrast between gloomy Puritan world (described as
) and the
In Ancient Egypt, the color
was associated with good fortune - when the Nile flooded it's banks annually, the ground was black which was rich and fertile soil for crops
In modern day America, the color
is refered to as an evil color because it represents communism
"But we perhaps exaggerate the gray or sable tinge,
which undoubtedly characterized the mood and manners of the age." (177)

- The Scarlet Letter portrays the Puritan world as a place where there is little room for free thought and expression.
For this reason, the colors gray and sable best fit the mood of the setting. As far as mindsets go, the majority of Puritans shared the same views on religion, life, and punishment.
- It becomes difficult to distinguish one mindset from another, in the same way it is difficult to distinguish one object from another in a colorless painting.

It is used along with sable to set the mood for the Puritan age. In a world represented by the color gray, somebody who sticks out will be persecuted. Even if they atone for their sins.
“Here, indeed, in the sable simplicity that generally characterized the Puritanic modes
of dress” (Hawthorne 61)

"Whether for the apparel of the dead body, or to typify, by manifold emblematic devices of sable cloth and snowy lawn, the sorrow of the survivors" (62)

“ON A FIELD, SABLE, THE LETTER A, GULES" (on the gravestone) (203)

letter represents something different in the world, which is why it is a brighter color then the world around it. Represents lawlessness, passions
In most cultures, the color
is correlated with old age and decay
What do these colors mean in the
Scarlet Letter?
Quote Analysis: Says how the letter is the only thing to be seen in an otherwise
Sable -
“ As if there were a withering spell in the sad letter, her beauty, the warmth and richness of her womanhood, departed like fading sunshine, and a


seemed to fall across her.” (163)

"Throwing his eyes anxiously in the direction of
the voice, he indistinctly beheld a form under the trees, clad in garments so sombre, and so little relieved from the
twilight into which the clouded sky and the heavy foliage had darkened the noontide, that he knew not whether it were a woman or a
" (146)
Sable represents the Puritan's bleakness and lack of variety of their dress and of their livelihood. This shows that somebody who has broken the rules of society will stick out. Like a scarlet letter in a sable field.

The Scarlet Letter
These quotes assosicate gray with darkness, or a lack of light.
is often used to describe the clouds and shadows that shroud the Puritans. Shadows are a reoccurring motif in the novel. They represent the manifestation of sin.
Underlying Meaning
- Throughout the novel, colors are used to represent aspects of Puritan society that remained constant for the entirety of the story.
- Gray
and black represent established beliefs that are the same among all members of Puritanic society.
- The bright
hue of Hester's letter contrasts the drabness of the world around her.
- Areas where Puritan beliefs don't hold true, such as the forest are covered in bright colors such as
The beliefs of the Puritans bring darkness to an inherently bright world.
represents accepting one's sins. Coming to terms with one's sins in the first step to accepting one's self.
Works Cited
"Pictures and Photos from the Scarlet Letter." Imdb. Web.
"The Scarlet Letter." Fanda Classics. 24 Oct. 2012. Web.
Boughton, George H. Pilgrims Going to Church. Digital image. History of Massachusetts. Rebecca Beatrice Brooks, 5 Dec. 2011. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.

-The gold represents a chance to own up to sins and admit the truth
- Contrasts the darkness of the usually world
( ';' )
Parker, Katharine. On a field, sable, the letter A, gules. Digital image. Wordpress.com. Wordpress, 22 Feb. 2013. Web. 27 Oct. 2014. <katharineparker.wordpress.com>.

"And as for the scarlet letter, I wear
it for the sake of its gold thread." (138)
Gold represents the ideal balance between admitting to ones sins and being accepted by society. A golden light shines upon characters who admit their sins to society throughout the novel

-Hester and Dimmesdale are in the forest
-Hester and Dimmesdale make plans to return
to Europe
-They admit that they have sinned
Ex: Pearl in the forest
Connection to theme: Hester and Dimmesdale, once they decide to go to Europe have accepted that they have sinned and both feel the burden they have carried for seven years lifted.
Although acknowledging and taking responsibility for one's sins will not earn the approval of society, it is essential to accepting one’s self.
If you are marked, you are condemned to live life as an outcast. If that is a given, it is important to at least accept one's self
Full transcript