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The Scarlet Letter: An A for Ambiguity
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This essay explores the ambiguity of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s use of symbolism in his romance The Scarlet Letter. To achieve this, the essay charts the influence of different aspects of American thought, such as Romanticism, Puritanism and neoclassicism in the text. Greater understanding is achieved by close reading passages that contain key and powerful images and symbols used throughout the narrative and relating them back to relevant aspects of the plot. Due to this technique the full scope and implications for character development is detailed. The results of this research lead to explanations of both the roots of the multiple meanings, their links to each other, and the whole effect they generate: both focusing on a single American group and generalizing that focus. This research is important because in order to bridge the gap between the time of publication and the romance’s period setting, an understanding of the items, features, buildings, colors, and various other potential symbols is required. A historical-symbolic intellectual framework can be applied when reading across the two periods of American history, the period setting in the 1600s and the time of writing in the 1840s. The conclusions of the paper place Hawthorne’s writing technique in an intellectual and literary context that in turn, raises several questions and potential possibilities for research for further pursuit. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 21 p.
Keyword [en]
Ambiguity, Hawthorne, Romanticism, Neoclassicism, Puritans, Symbols
National Category
General Literature Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-90588OAI: diva2:626576
Available from: 2014-01-22 Created: 2013-06-10 Last updated: 2014-01-22Bibliographically approved

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