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how is the color red used throught the novel, what does it symbolize, and what are 5...

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hcrecord | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 15, 2012 at 2:16 PM via web

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how is the color red used throught the novel, what does it symbolize, and what are 5 example? 

also, some examples of figurative language throughout the novel?

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gmkurdi | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted October 15, 2012 at 4:47 PM (Answer #1)

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In literature, the color red most often symbolizes passion and love and thus is a fitting color for Hester's emblem of shame; however, in The Scarlet Letter it can also be attributed to the devil ("red-hot with infernal fire" (at the end of chapter 5) because of its setting in a religious, Puritan settlement . Hester also dresses Pearl in Red, thus she is called "the brightest jet of flame" (chapter 7) and "the scarlet letter in another form" (chapter 7).  In addition, Pearl is called Ruby, Coral, and Red Rose in Chapter 8 implying again, attention paid to the hue of the garments she wears. Because Pearl is often clad in red, the narrator suggests a link between Pearl and Hester's crime, as one born of passion, and also to her as Hester's object of affection (chap 6). In chapter 10, there is a mysterious red meteor shaped like the letter A that burns in the night sky. The narrator suggests that it could be marking the death of Gov. Winthrop or marking the ascent to the scaffold by Rev. Dimmesdale.  Either way, both are connected with some kind divine interaction with nature. Although the color red isn't explicitly mentioned, it is implied as Dimmesdale "wields the bloody scourge" on his back to punish himself for his sin (chapter 12).  Within the wide landscape of the novel, Hawthorne associates the color red with both goodness and love, and sin, shame, and disgrace in order to simultaneously suggest man's capability of both. 

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