September 14, 2004


The Scarlet Letter is a text rich with the use of color....

Has anyone else noticed that this novel seems to be drenched in a wash of colors? From the bleak prison, the men clad in grey, the poignantly colored rose bush, and of course, the infamous scarlet letter which is trimmed in gold threading. It makes me think of fire. Later, when the letter appears in the sky in a fiery blaze...And of course, Pearl. The name is a color - not white, but rather off white. Does this parallel the sins of her mother that she should recieve a name that isn't pure in color? What are your thoughts on this?

Posted by KatieAikins at September 14, 2004 9:14 PM

Are you an art major, Katie? :-)

Color is a major symbol in The Scarlet Letter. The red of the "A" denotes the passionate and bold nature of Hester--or her actions, but the gold thread illustrates a refined vein (i.e. helping those that despise her), which sets Hester apart and above others.

Posted by: Amanda at September 15, 2004 10:02 AM

Another observation: Hawthorne says Pearl's physical coloring doesn't match her name.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at September 15, 2004 12:15 PM

I also found colors – or lack thereof in descriptions of Dimmesdale and Chillingworth. It seems they represent good and evil respectively and the color terms used to describe them fit this theme. Dimmesdale is described as “the pale minister” as he responds to Chillingworth’s probing. Even toward the end of the story, after his meeting with Hester the narrator remarks: “How feeble and pale he looked, amid all his triumph!”
Chillingworth is always associated with darkening: when he recognizes Hester for the first time on the scaffold “His face darkened with some powerful emotion…” As he continues to grow more evil “…a change had come over his features--how much uglier they were, how his dark complexion seemed to have grown duskier.”

Check out this link on the signifigance of color: (I didn't know how to create a link on a reply, sorry)

Posted by: LindaFondrk at September 28, 2004 12:27 PM