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Clothing at Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Essay

Assignment id 1015297
Discipline Self Improvement
Assignment type Essay
Words 2556
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Clothing: A Form of Rebellion "Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used by the writer to represent abstract ideas or concepts." Symbolism in literature is the depth and concealed significance in any bit of work. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a strong and evocative novel laced with symbolism. The most apparent is that the sign of the scarlet letter itself, representing Hester's sin of adultery. Hawthorne's other symbols are far less clear and are very often obscured in the novel. Clothing is an important but often forgotten symbol in The Scarlet Letter. Clothing is defined as "clothing collectively, clothing, raiment, apparel a covering" (dictionary.com). The next part of the definition, which describes clothing as "a covering" is the most relevant to its own symbolism in the novel (dictionary.com). Hester is a seamstress and uses it as her source of income to support herself and her daughter Pearl. Hester uses clothing as a covering or escape from her sentence of having to use the scarlet letter on her bosom all of the time. The connotation of the word throughout the publication is a type of rebellion. Her job provides an outlet for Hester's artistic sensibilities, which she moves in the work she does for others and at the clothing she embroiders for Pearl. With Pearl's apparel, Hester can give "the gorgeous tendencies of her imagination their full play" (Scarlet). Hester dresses Pearl in vivid colors rather than the dark, drab colors that were so prevalently worn in Puritan society. In Chapter 1, the beginning scene of this book, Hawthorne describes a set of Puritans in the front of the prison. They were wearing "sad-colored garments and grayhats." Some were wearing hoods (Scarlet 42). Already Hawthorne is sh...

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