Red Flames - Scarlet Letter (19-24)

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"We may all see it in the sunshine; and it glows like a red flame in the dark."

Mistress Hibbins was speaking to Pearl and Hester in the market place when she said this comment about the scarlet letter. She understood that Hester bore her shame in public, but it was seen in the sunshine. It seems that showing the scarlet letter in the sunshine would be much less harsh than keeping it in the dark. The first piece of the sentence gives a much brighter connotation than the second, mentioning "red flames."

It is possible she was referring to the flames of hell, or to the flames of passion. Either way, she was pointing out that when the secret is hidden, its burn is much more intense. For Dimmesdale, who had no outward expression of his shame, the secret seemed to burn his very soul. So much so that he had to torture himself for his shame and that he became physically ill.

2 Comments

Jessica Apitsch said:

I liked how you picked a part one sentence and let each part shine on its own. i definately agree with your second paragraph and I enjoyed your image of the soul itself burning. I felt for Dimmesdale more than Hester throughout this whole novel.

Kayla Lesko said:

I had mixed feelings for Dimmesdale. At one point, I'd like him and then he'd get on my nerves because he refused to admit what he did.

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