The Scarlet Letter Questions and Answers
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter book cover
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How do the black flowers initiate a discussion on ''hidden sins'' in The Scarlet Letter?

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In The Scarlet Letter flowers are used often as a way to symbolize various themes and ideas.  The rosebush growing by the prison illustrates how even though Hester is in jail, being judged for something bad, there is still beauty in her soul - her character is beautiful.  Later in the novel, Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s husband is talking to her about judgment, revenge and pity. Hester tells him that she pities him for he has changed so much:

And I thee,” answered Hester Prynne, “for the hatred that has transformed a wise and just man to a fiend!

He replies:

My old faith, long...

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