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Symbolism Allegory and Realism in The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne used several common literary devices in writing The Scarlet Letter as writers generally do The three most important ones he used are symbolism allegory and realism Symbolism in the book is what helps emphasize conflicts characters links between people and events and other that arent told to you outright Allegory in the story is what contains the themes central to the book Realism is what sets the stage for every scene and adds believability to the novel To understand The Scarlet Letter fully you must first understand these three devices central to Hawthornes masterpiece Throughout the story symbolism is the most common method of Hawthorne bringing forth conflicts and ideas or linking people objects and events The most obvious symbol in the story is the Scarlet Letter It is intended by the clergy to be a symbol of the crime that Hester committed and it does just that and much more The scarlet letter also represents her inescapable agony and her ever-growing strength In the beginning of the story the letter serves its purpose as a punishment and it alienates Hester from society As the story progresses we can see that every time Hester is even close to happiness such as when she is playing with Perl she is reminded of the letter and how she is a sinner and must be shunned by society This perpetual anguish is at least put on hold when she removes the letter in the forest showing how instrumental the Scarlet Letter is in her unhappiness The letter also shows her strength in the latter portions of the story It becomes a symbol of her benevolence toward the community she has done nothing wrong since her punishment and has devoted her entire life from that point on to others often less needy than herself Newcomers to the town do not understand that it is intended to be a symbol
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