The Scarlet Letter


Threads are rather insignificant by themselves. It is when a weaver connects them together that they form a beautiful tapestry. Each thread now contributes to the quality of the tapestry and are bound together by the common picture that form. In a work of literature, each thread is an idea and the common picture is a theme. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, each thread is an ironic element of setting, and together, they demonstrate people's tendency to seek shelter from, instead of in, society. Vivid yet ironic descriptions are used by Hawthorne as a weaver uses bright threads to draw more attention to the finer points of the work.

Firstly, a melancholy feeling is associated with the cottage in which Hester Prynne chooses to make her home. The cottage is "on the outskirts of town" (p.84), and was abandoned by the early settlers of the New World "because the soil about it was too sterile for cultivation" (p.84). Also, the cottage is similar to a witch's cottage in that "a mystic shadow of suspicion immediately [attaches] itself to the spot" (p.84), and young children lurk about it trying to find out more about the mysterious woman who lives there. The cottage is "shut out...

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