Analysis of Allusions in The Scarlet letter
When an author refers to other events, people, and great works, it usually isn’t accidental. Simply defined, an allusion is a literary style involving references to well-known people, places, or events. They are commonly used through symbolism, similes, and metaphors.
In A Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne makes several allusions. Ranging from historical figures and other writers to religious text, Hawthorne effectively applies these allusions in his novel.
1. Historical Allusions
The Governor and King James
Hawthorne connects the Governor and King James in one of his passages. He describes the elaborate ruff and grey beard of the Governor in relation to the fashion prevalent during King James’ reign.
The Governor is shown as living in an extravagantly elaborate house that displays his affinity towards the good life. By alluding to King James, Hawthorne illustrates how both of these men are vain and shallow.
More particularly, the Governor’s lifestyle is in sharp contrast to the puritan society he presides over. Although he preaches for a pure and simple life, his actions are the exact opposite of his words.
Sir Thomas Overbury
In Chapter IX, Hawthorne alludes to Sir Thomas Overbury. A grand historical figure and writer, Sir Thomas was murdered in 1613, leading to a highly scandalous trial. His poem, A Wife, claimed that men had to demand certain virtues from women. It is said that this poem was the reason behind his murder.
In the passage, Hawthorne makes a historic reference to a scandal that was notoriously adulterous at the time.
2. Biblical Allusions
Satan and Chillingworth