In his book, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne tells of a story where a young woman has had an adulterous relationship with a respected priest in a Puritan community. Typical of Hawthorne's writings is the use of imagery and symbolism. In Chapter 12, The Minister's Vigil, there are several uses of imagery when Dimmesdale, the priest, is battling with confessing his sin, which has plagued him for seven years. Three evident techniques used to personify symbolism in this chapter are the use of darkness versus light, the use of inner guilt versus confession, and lastly the use of colors (black versus white). Hawthorne's use of darkness versus light is vivid throughout the entire book. However, there are two very important passages
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This brought him into the depths of his inner guilt. If Dimmesdale had done what Pearl wanted him to do and confess in the daylight, then at this moment in time, Dimmesdale would be relieved of all guilt and come to repentance. Since he could not do this, his only option was to die with deep sorrow and grief in his heart, or so it seemed. When people do not rely upon God for rescue from their temptations and refuge in their struggles, they seek deliverance in other things. It was not uncommon for people in that day to look at signs in the skies for their answers. This particular night was no different than any other; for "a blazing spear, a sword of flame, a bow, or a sheaf of arrows, sun in the midnight sky, prefigured Indian warfare. Nothing was more common, in those days, than to interpret all meteoric appearances, and other natural phenomena, that occurred with less regularity than the rise and set of sun and moon, as so many revelations from a supernatural source"(135). When the signs appeared in the sky, several people thought about their own inner struggles and perhaps viewed them as spiritual warfare. These signs told them what needed to happen in order to be released from this bondage.
Dimmesdale did not know what to do with those signs in the sky, for they portrayed something beyond his understanding. Hawthorne sought to show the internal struggle that Arthur Dimmesdale faced was weighing on his