In The Scarlet Letter, chiastic structure is used. What are some examples of this?
Chiastic structure is a reversal in the order of words in two otherwise parallel phrases, such as, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
1 Answer | Add Yours
In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses a chiastic structure, beginning and ending with a public scaffold scene. The irony and reversal is, of course, that Hester is meant to publicly confess her sins before the townspeople; instead, it is Dimmesdale who confesses his guilt at the end. So, the second half of the novel is a mirror image of the first. In the middle, of course, is another, private scaffold scene that serves as the conjunction of the two halves of the novel.
So, Hawthorne uses the chiastic structure not as a rhetorical device in a sentence, but as a plot structure device to bookend the novel with public confession. The scaffold and the scarlet letter A are used in the beginning, middle, and end to parallel the three lives thereupon: Hester (who moves from guilty to innocent), Dimmesdale (who moves from innocent to guilty), and Pearl (who moves from outcast to accepted).
So says another Enotes editor:
For example, chapters 2 and 24 (the second chapter and the second-to-last chapter) are chiasmic. In chapter 2, Hester stands on the scaffold as the town condems her as guilty, while in chapter 24, Dimmesdale stands on the scaffold and condemns himself.
The Great Gatsby is structured the same way: chapter 1 parallels chapter 9; 2 vs. 8, 3 vs. 7; 4 vs. 6; and it all meets in the middle, in chapter 5, during Gatsby's reunion with Daisy.
We’ve answered 319,199 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question