The Scarlet Letter Essay Research Paper Zapata — страница 3

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of Hester’s scarlet letter A has been used as a textbook case to illustrate the difference between two kinds of imagery in writing: allegory and symbolism. Allegory, in which the name of a character or a thing directly indicates its meaning, can be seen in Hawthorne’s early story “Young Goodman Brown”, about a young, good man. Symbolism, on the other hand, requires more interpretation; the A, for instance, suggests many possibilities which are in themselves contradictory (adultery versus angel). Most critics understand symbolism as a more sophisticated technique, and see it as more rewarding for the reader, who must enter into the text in order to tease out its possible meanings (James 113). In The Scarlet Letter, this act of interpretation outside the text mirrors what

happens in the story itself. The narrator of The Scarlet Letter continually provides more than one interpretation of events. When the strange light shines in the sky during The Minister’s Vigil, it makes all visible, but with a singularity of aspect that seems to give another moral interpretation to Zapata 6 the things of this world than they had ever borne before. The narrator only reports a light. He suggests that Dimmesdale reads it as a giant A his own secret sin writ large in the heavens because of his highly disordered mental state. But this account is in turn undermined when the sexton and the townsfolk also read a large A in the sky, which they interpret to stand for angel. These moments suggest that part of the appeal of The Scarlet Letter is the act of reading itself.

Hawthorne dramatizes the effect of reading most clearly through Pearl. Up until a certain point, she is more a symbol than a character. The narrator comments, as Pearl dances by, “It was the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed with life” (Symons 634). But at a particular moment, Pearl ceases to be a symbol, an it, and becomes human. That moment occurs on the scaffold, when she kisses her father; his grief transforms her, by calling upon all her sympathies. This moment illustrates the moral effect that aesthetic philosophers of the nineteenth century believed literature and art could have on their audiences (Abott 143). Hawthorne, by inscribing such a moment, puts forth high aesthetic claims for his work. The fact that Pearl here the figure for an ideal

reader is feminine may suggest that Hawthorne has a feminine audience in mind. Occasionally, Hawthorne seems to voice a certain anxiety about the fact that aesthetic appreciation is seldom seen in the masculine character after childhood or early youth, and whether or not writing might have a disturbingly feminizing effect on writers and readers. On the other hand, work as a customs officer poses a threat to self reliance and manly character a threat Hawthorne escapes by returning to writing. In any case, the scene of Pearl’s transformation, as the text’s central moment of redemption and resolution, emphasizes the importance of the emotions in a richly lived and moral life (Kingsley 33). In this way, Zapata 7 Hawthorne seems to bring two opposites together. Pearl, as a

younger, virginal version of her mother, neutralizes the threat Hester initially posed. Hawthorne brings the possibility of sensual and feeling feminine character back into the realm of moral life by using important historical similarities and expanding them to fit his characters and theme. 32c