In chapter 7, where else have we seen the rose-bush motif in The Scarlet Letter?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Two instances inThe Scarlet Lettershow the motif (repetitive symbol) of the rose-bush: chapter 1, and chapter 7.

In chapter one, the rose-bush appears in complete juxtaposition to its location. The "ugly building" from where it suddenly sprung contrasts dramatically with the delicately beautiful nature of the plant. The narrator tells that legend suggests that this particularly rose-bush miraculously sprang after the feet of Anne Hutchinson, the persecuted religious leader, walked over it on her way to being jailed. However, there is an additional meaning to this motif:

It may serve, let us hope, to symbolise some sweet moral blossom that may be found along the track, or relieve the darkening close of a tale of human frailty and sorrow

Therefore, in chapter 1, the rose-bush is a symbol of how, even within the most dire of situations there may always be some miracle that could arise; that even in the darkest of hours, life may throw a form of relief much like the rose-bush relieves the eyesore of the prison.

In chapter 7, the rose-bushes in the garden are said to have been planted by the ancestors of the settlement

probably the descendants of those planted by the Reverend Mr. Blackstone, the first settler of the peninsula; that half mythological personage who rides through our early annals, seated on the back of a bull.

The rose-bush is also interconnected to Pearl in this chapter. In one of her tantrums, Pearl stubbornly demands a rose from her mother. When Hester asks her to hush, Pearl literally emits a shriek that would have scared anybody. In this case, the want for the red rose from the garden, and Hester's prohibition of it, alludes to the Forbidden Tree in the Garden of Eden. This would signify that Pearl represents evil, the temptation of acting against the will of her maker, and the rebellion of not abiding by given rules.

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The Scarlet Letter

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