Ambiguity Of The Scarlet Letter

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The use of ambiguity is a significant feature of Hawthorne’s style in The Scarlet Letter. Through the constant use of ambiguity, Hawthorne keeps the reader engaged and uncertain of what is true. Examples of ambiguity can be found throughout the novel, such as the description of the rosebush in front of the prison and the conversation between Dimmesdale and Chillingworth about the herbs. Hawthorne uses ambiguity to add depth and complexity to the story and to keep the reader guessing. Along with irony and symbolism, ambiguity is an important technique that Hawthorne uses to create a well-crafted and captivating storyline.

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Ambiguity, which is doubtlessness or inconclusiveness of meaning, is an important characteristic of Hawthorn’s style in The Scarlet Letter. Constantly used throughout the story, ambiguity continually keeps the readers attention. Examples of ambiguity are clearly seen throughout the book. When Hester Prone Is leaving the prison, Hawthorn briefly describes a rosebush In front of the prison. Hawthorne says, “… Or whether, as there is fair authority for believing it had sprung up under the footsteps of the sainted Ann Hutchinson”(34). This statement is mixed with ambiguity and the mockery of the Puritans.

Hawthorne is mocking the fact that the Puritans add a supernatural essence to every day occurrences. Still, one must decide if Ann Hutchinson had any thing to do with the planting of the rose bush. Another scene of ambiguity is seen when Timescale questions Sociolinguists about the herbs he has collected. The response Timescale receives startles him. Sociolinguists answers Damselfly’s question by telling him he collected the herbs from the heart of a man who died with an unconfused sin In his heart. In this scene, Sociolinguists is pulling for a confession from Timescale.

Timescale is in an extreme frail state of mind because with a sin lying heavily on his heart. He is confused and desperately looking for a way to confess his sin. It is possible that Timescale creates this whole conversation as a way to relieve himself from some of the guilt that he feels for the sin he committed. Damselfly’s mind is clouded and he is frantically looking for a way out. He needs relief from his guilt and he is willing to do anything that will ease him of guilt as long as he does not have to suffer any consequences for his sin.

Due to the use of ambiguity, one does not know whether or not to believe that there is truly a mark on Damselfly’s chest. The reader experiences mixed emotions as one tries to decide what Is truth. Constant confusion Is placed Into the readers mind to keep the novel Interesting. Technique along with irony and symbolism to captivate and hold the readers attention. His techniques dictate a well-thought and planned story line. Ambiguity in Hawthorn’s novel is one way he adds a certain level of conciseness that every romantic story requires.

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Ambiguity Of The Scarlet Letter. (2018, Feb 04). Retrieved from

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