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Discuss the symbol of the prison and the rose bush in the Scarlet Letter.

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lola21 | Middle School Teacher | eNoter

Posted January 29, 2010 at 7:31 AM via web

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Discuss the symbol of the prison and the rose bush in the Scarlet Letter.

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mahirbarut | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted February 11, 2010 at 6:57 PM (Answer #1)

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Inıtıally the prison and cemetery are introduced to us symbolically refering to the convention of the puritan age. The founder of the New England doesnt forget to build immedietly a prison and a cemetery. We are given an expansive information about the appearance of the prison and its around. İt is made out of wooden and reflects the harsh weather conditions with stains on it and subsequently attention shifts to the prison door. İt seems to be stuck/locked in an antique time-warp and goes on proceeding with the Rose-Bush which stands out as a significant symbol. At the entrance side of the prison the rose-bush with its fragrant and fragile beauty we learn that it survives on long years from the early times by the door. The narrator states that it may symbolizes “sweet moral blossom” or “a tale of human frailty and sorrow” this definitions also gives us the hint about the ingredients of the main theme throughout the story. Also the prison itself is presented as the black flower of civilized society.

So the prison door symbolizes the oldest heritage sinfulness of humanity and how it is a steady legacy from the ancient times.

The prison symbolizes a black stain of society on the civilization

And the rose-bush hints that there is still a moral hope, it is an omen which indicates the justice will pervail eventually despite of everything. The rose bush also reflects the moral values in proportion to the nature. Because within the bonds of the nature everything acts in a way what it is really like and what it should do by its nature without resisting to its essential needs. But civilized man especially puritans rejected the mostly part of human needs like enjoys and spices of the life especially sexuality. But to deny means nothing because you can change nothing by denying it or covering the truth. So the roses symbolized normally passions and desires thus we can deduce that here it symbolizes how the freedom of the human nature is imprisoned by the conventional visdom. Under this circumstance the nature will resist to the later doctrines and this resistence will manifest itself with dogged determination who Hester Prynne keeps in her heart. Nothing could be more explicit than this presentation. Because there is no place for REPRESSED FEELINGS within the nature so it will be wise to remember the human behavours is formed by this same rules.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted January 29, 2010 at 8:05 AM (Answer #2)

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The rose bush is like Pearl.  It grows in a location where it serves as a stark contrast against the prison.  Pearl is beautiful and grows in stark contrast to the fact that she was created out of "sin." 

Pearl and her mother, Hester Pryne, have been brought before the small counsel so they can determine if Hester should be allowed to raise the child, Pearl.  They identify Hester as a sinful woman and do not want the child to be raised to follow in her mother's footsteps. 

When Pearl is asked where she came from, she tells them that she was plucked from the rose bush.  Her wit is also thorn like.

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loripayne | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 29, 2010 at 8:50 AM (Answer #3)

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The prison is just that, a prison; a place for Hester to be for her punishment.  The thing is, the prison is one of the few places Hester can exist and have solace from the harshness of the outside.  This is also one of the few places she can be alone with her lover (although we didn't know that at the beginning of the book).  The physical prison is actually not effective.  It only aids in the feeling of justification of the townspeople.  Hester is in her own prison whether she is actually behind bars or not.  The personal/emotional isolation she endures on a daily basis is much worse than being in the physical prison.

The rose is a beautiful, wild, mystical thing-reflective of Pearl.  She too is wild and grows with little nurturing; she also endures a harsh environment, just as the rose does.  Hester references Pearl's existence and the rose as one in the same.  This revelation by Pearl later does come back to hurt Pearl and Hester when Pearl is asked where she feels she came from (she says she came from the wild rose).

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lola21 | Middle School Teacher | eNoter

Posted February 28, 2010 at 6:35 AM (Answer #4)

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Thank you.

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