Monthly Archives: October 2015

Beauty in Chapter 7 of The Scarlet Letter

scarlet-letter-cover-6Towards the end of chapter seven in The Scarlet Letter, the theme of beauty is especially evident. When Hester and Pearl visit the governors mansion, they are surrounded with the beauty of his house, which is a strong contrast to their own home. Nathaniel Hawthorne illustrates the beauty found in this house when he describes the furniture that is “elaborately carved with wreaths of oaken flowers” (508), and a statue that was “so highly burnished as to glow with white radiance” (508). The light and natural beauty which is unlike anything Hester and Pearl are used to, is explicitly addressed when Hester says “we shall see flowers there; more beautiful ones than we find in the woods” (509), about the garden at the governors home. This unfamiliar setting puts even more of focal point on Hester’s scarlet A. The letter has been there for a while, but her new surroundings particularly highlight it, which is evident when Pearl notices that the scarlet A completely consumes her mothers reflection in a gleaming mirror. Hawthorne describes how the exaggerated reflection of the letter was “to be greatly the most prominent feature of her appearance” (508). The prominence of the letter and how it stands out against the beauty of the governors mansion, in this specific part of the book also further reveals Hester’s loss of her own identity because of her sin. This is conveyed when Hester notices that “In truth, she seemed absolutely hidden behind it” (508), when looking at how the letter dominates her reflection in the mirror. The theme of beauty, which is so apparent in this particular part of the book, consequently reveals many other important themes including Hester’s loss of identity.