Adultery has been around almost as long as people. It has maintained a harsh punishment, from banishment to death, but in the Puritan world (from about 1620-1640), it’s punishment may have been worse than either.
In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne is a lonely Puritan woman who commits Adultery with a preacher named Arthur Dimmesdale and has a daughter,the symbol of her infidelity,while continuously encountering and battling with the fake enmity/alias created by her “missing” husband.
This novel overflows with powerful imagery, emphasizing the inner natures of characters and the significance of certain events.
Specifically, the ideas of light and darkness,that are constant sources of dramatic influence within the plot of the story.
The overall importance of the coloring and shading begins with Hester Prynne’s Scarlet letter itself.
Light is used throughout the novel to highlight or point out aspects of characters, illuminating their intentions and thoughts, as well as their inner qualities.
In the very beginning of the book( introduction) light and similar constructs are used many times to illustrate representations of the narrator such as when that people he worked with perceived him “in no other light” than as a smart, sensible worker; using the light to show what people saw him as.
By referring to the light and darkness so often these two contrast things become Hawthorne’s motif clearly visible throughout the book.
Not only does Hawthorne talk about the light multiple times throughout the introduction, but he also uses it multiple times in the beginning chapters of the book such as in chapter two, when Pearl turns her head away from the bright sunlight after acclimating to the dark, gloomy prison. Not only does this scene and its emphasis on sunlight contrasted with darkness invoke pity for the baby and her mother’s imprisonment, but it also reflects the way in which Hester is being exposed to the public and the light of day for her sin.
Hester is referred as “a black shadow emerging into the sunshine,”not only is it describing the scene but its a metaphor for the sins of hester bursting out to be exposed to everyone out in the open.
Arthur Dimmesdale is at risk of losing his inner “light” as a clergyman.