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What are three literary devices Hawthorne uses to communicate the theme of good...

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jaimone | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 17, 2010 at 9:37 AM via web

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What are three literary devices Hawthorne uses to communicate the theme of good emerging from evil in The Scarlet Letter? 

I have identified characterization (Pearl, Hester) and symbolism (the A, rosebush) as two devices used by Hawthorne, but am having difficulty finding a third device with textual support.

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 18, 2010 at 6:49 AM (Answer #1)

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So far, you are doing well! The devices you have mentioned are both excellent.

For your third literary device, how about setting? Throughout the novel, the setting is dark and dismal. The town where Hester lives is between the sea and a black forest. The forest represents evil. Hester often meets with Chillingworth  in the forest and learns of his evil plans. At the end of the novel, however, when Hester moves back to her town, even living in the same cottage, the setting is the same, but there is good coming out of it. Hester returns without Pearl, but the novel intimates that Pearl has most likely gotten married, is living abroad, and even may have a child. She shows that she loves her mother, as Hester is always receiving letters and wonderful items that could only have been purchased by someone wealthy. She is even seen making something for a baby. So out of the evil forest, comes love.

But, through the remainder of Hester's life, there were indications that the recluse of the scarlet letter was the object of love and interest with some inhabitant of another land. Letters came, with armorial seals upon them, though of bearings unknown to English heraldry. In the cottage there were articles of comfort and luxury, such as Hester never cared to use, but which only wealth could have purchased, and affection have imagined for her. There were trifles, too, little ornaments, beautiful tokens of a continual remembrance, that must have been wrought by delicate fingers, at the impulse of a fond heart. And, once, Hester was seen embroidering a baby-garment, with such a lavish richness of golden fancy as would have raised a public tumult, had any infant, thus apparelled, been shown to our sober-hued community.

This section comes from the last chapter. You can read an analysis of the novel here on eNotes and there is also an enhanced text.

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