Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of The Scarlet Letter, has an extremely elaborate, and well-depicted way of expressing himself. During chapter seventeen there is an abundant use of figurative language, for example, symbolism, alliteration, and similes. Through this type of writing the author not only conveys his ideas in a more lucid manner but also makes the reader feel as if he or she was in that time and place as well.
Chapter seventeen is very significant to The Scarlet Letter since it’s the first time after seven years of torment in which Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale are found together in an intimate setting talking to each other. The location in which this chapter takes place is outside the town in a forest, which is literally outside the boundaries of their community, and also symbolically outside its moral boundaries. Beyond the laws of men, their love can be considered consecrated although unblessed by the church, and they can be their true selves separate from the roles they have been assigned to play.
The wilderness is also a place of opportunity and creative power where these two characters have the freedom to create new identities whether that means as part of a Puritan community creating a Utopia in the New World or on their own, recreating a life for themselves as a couple. As the chapter describes how these two characters question each other about their life in the years they have not seen each other, there are two examples of alliteration which stand out.
The first one is “All falsehood! -all emptiness! -all death! ” This is said by Dimmesdale, who is suffering from hiding his sin, and meaning to say that the lie he is conducting is causing him great pain inside. The second example of alliteration is “Thy good,-thy life,-thy fame. ” This is said by Hester in an attempt to ask Dimmesdale for forgiveness, for a pardon of her oblivious actions in relation to his feelings. These forms of alliteration show emotions and thoughts from the characters.
In a way, it shows the contradictions between their way of thinking, one optimistic and one pessimistic, and in another way it highlights those feelings held deep inside which they both have been carrying for the sake of each other. “No golden light had ever been so precious as the gloom of this dark forest. ” This is a simile used to compare how simple days in which the sun is out shining bright cannot compare to the gloomy and dark forest which brings peace to both Hester and Dimmesdale.
The simile’s meaning is beautiful because it’s due to not only love but also an appeased feeling since both characters were comfortable with each other and had confessed what was troubling them; the fact that Chillingworth was Hester’s husband and that Dimmesdale carried his inside within himself while everybody appraised him for a false image. The forest, also, plays an important role for the entire novel for the reason that these two characters are accused with of a sin, adultery.
Adultery isn’t something to be interpreted as luminous, but more as obscure and tint. Yet, at the forest, in a time of confession, they both assuage and reassure each other for the better in a future. Hawthorne is one of the most descriptive, detailed writers to have ever lived. Simply by beginning to read The Scarlet Letter I have already began to realize the great care and deep thought that he exhibits in his writing. Figurative language is definitely one of his areas of expertise.
With the selective word choice, the detailed imagery, and the tremendous amount of comparisons he makes, the reader forgets everything but what they’re doing, reading. While flipping each page of this novel it feels as if you were there living in the puritan society, feeling and seeing everything that occurs in Hester’s life. This is a very difficult goal to accomplish, but Hawthorne gives a more than adequate representation of each occurrence in this tale.