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What is the symbolism of the color red as it is used in The Scarlet Letter?

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courtneyclinks | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 7, 2013 at 12:10 AM via iOS

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What is the symbolism of the color red as it is used in The Scarlet Letter?

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted January 8, 2013 at 12:34 PM (Answer #1)

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The use of the colour red is most visible in this novel in the form of the scarlet letter. To the Puritan community it signifies Hester's sin and shame in having committed adultery, but the use of the colour also seems to have broader meaning in the novel as a whole. It is a striking colour, the symbol of passion and perhaps of life itself. Another notable instance of the use of red is in the depiction of the wild rosebush just outside of the prison door. Its beauty and vividness contrasts sharply with the barrenness and essential lifelessness of the prison. Pearl, the little girl so full of life and spirit, also sometimes wears red.

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