The Scarlet Letter

Red and Black Symbol Analysis

Red and Black Symbol Icon
Red symbolizes the glow of Hester's passion. Black represents the devil and sin. Chillingworth, for instance, refers to their shared fate as a "black flower." The inscription on the tombstone Hester and Dimmesdale share says "On a field, sable, the letter A, gules," which means "On a black background, the scarlet letter burns."

Red and Black Quotes in The Scarlet Letter

The The Scarlet Letter quotes below all refer to the symbol of Red and Black. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Sin Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of The Scarlet Letter published in 2015.
Chapter 2 Quotes
On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold-thread, appeared the letter A. It was so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it ... was of a splendor in accordance with the taste of the age, but greatly beyond what was allowed by the sumptuary regulations of the colony.
Related Characters: Hester Prynne
Related Symbols: Red and Black, The Scarlet Letter
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes
As he spoke, he laid his long forefinger on the scarlet letter, which forwith seemed to scortch into Hester’s breast, as if it had been red-hot. He noticed her involuntary gesture, and smiled. “Live, therefore, and bear about thy doom with thee, in the eyes of men and women—in the eyes of him thou didst call thy husband—in the eyes of yonder child! And, that thou mayst live, take off this draught.”
Related Characters: Roger Chillingworth (speaker), Hester Prynne, Pearl, Arthur Dimmesdale
Related Symbols: Red and Black
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes
“Wilt thou go with us tonight? There will be a merry company in the forest; and I well-nigh promised the Black Man that comely Hester Prynne should make one.”
Related Characters: Mistress Hibbins (speaker), Hester Prynne
Related Symbols: Red and Black
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupid

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Red and Black Symbol Timeline in The Scarlet Letter

The timeline below shows where the symbol Red and Black appears in The Scarlet Letter. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Sin Theme Icon
...prison was most likely built upon the founding of Boston and describes prisons as the "black flower of civilized society." (full context)
Puritanism Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Next to the prison door stands a blooming wild rose bush . The narrator imagines that perhaps the rose bush grows in such an unlikely place... (full context)
Sin Theme Icon
Individuality and Conformity Theme Icon
Puritanism Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
The narrator describes the rose bush as sitting on the threshold of the story he plans to tell. He then plucks... (full context)
Chapter 2
Sin Theme Icon
Individuality and Conformity Theme Icon
Puritanism Theme Icon
...tall, with a head of dark glossy hair, and a beautiful face with deeply set black eyes. She has a lady-like dignity, which the narrator says never was more powerfulor beautiful... (full context)
Chapter 8
Puritanism Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Mr. Wilson asks Pearl who made her. Pearl says that she was plucked from the rose bush just outside the prison door. (full context)
Chapter 12
Sin Theme Icon
The Occult Theme Icon
...Dimmesdale delivers his most powerful sermon ever. Afterward, the church sexton returns to Dimmesdale a black glove he found on the scaffold, saying Satan must have left it there. He mentions... (full context)
Chapter 14
Sin Theme Icon
Individuality and Conformity Theme Icon
Hester says she must tell Dimmesdale about Chillingworth. He responds that their fate, a "black flower," is no longer in anyone's hands. He apologizes to Hester for not having offered... (full context)
Chapter 23
Sin Theme Icon
Individuality and Conformity Theme Icon
Puritanism Theme Icon
...scaffold. He asks them to approach him at the scaffold. Chillingworth warns Dimmesdale not to "blacken" his fame. (full context)