What is an example of imagery in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne?  

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booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Imagery is when an author uses words to paint a mental "image" in the mind of the reader. It is defined fully as...

...the forming of mental images, figures, or likenesses of things. It is also the use of language to represent actions, persons, objects, and ideas descriptively.

In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, an example of imagery can be found in Chapter Ten, "The Leech and His Patient," as Hester Prynne and her daughter Pearl move through the grave yard. Pearl comes to the attention of Roger Chillingworth and Mr. Dimmesdale:

So she drew her mother away, skipping, dancing, and frisking fantastically, among hillocks of the dead people, like a creature that had nothing in common with a bygone and buried generation, nor owned herself akin to it.

This is a much more "colorful" way to describe a young child running through the cemetery, unconcernedly, with no thought to the graves she is passing over...even unaware that she is a mortal being as are those buried beneath her feet.

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queengal112's profile pic

queengal112 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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the scarlet letter-The symbolism behind the scarlet letter A changes throughout this novel. Though initially this letter A symbolizes the sin of adultery, Hester Prynne alters its meaning through her hard work and charity. Some people begin to suggest that the A stands for "able," since Hester is such a capable woman. Others begin to recognize that the scarlet letter has begun to achieve holiness, righteousness. It has "the effect of the cross on a nun’s bosom. It imparted to the wearer a kind of sacredness, which enabled her to walk securely amid all peril. Had she fallen among thieves, it would have kept her safe" (13.5). Many years later, when Hester returns and voluntarily takes up the scarlet letter again, it has become, for her and others, a symbol of grace.

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