In The Scarlet Letter, what similarities does chapter 18, "A Flood of Sunshine," have with the Bible and/or romance?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are obvious similarities with romance stories in this chapter as Dimmesdale and Hester are finally reunited and plan their escape and union together in the New World. However, what is far more interesting is the Biblical allusion that there is to the Baptism of Jesus. Let us remember that the Bible tells us when Jesus rises up after being baptised he is bathed in light and a divine voice calls out in affirmation of Jesus. When Hester takes off her cap and lets her hair fall freely over her shoulders, note what happens:

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 grey trunks of the solemn trees. The objects that had made a shadow hitherto embodied the brightness now.

Although the narrator makes it clear that this was an act of "the sympathy of Nature," at the same time the parallels are clear between the baptism of Jesus and the light that bathes him and this light that bathes Dimmesdale and Hester in their love. Can we see this parallel as therefore suggesting some kind of divine approval or implicit criticism from Hawthorne of Puritan society?


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