The Word Prophet In The "Scarlet Letter" And Its Development

966 words - 4 pages

Prophet in Scarlet Letter

The Word Prophet originates from use in religion, however today’s literature uses prophet to describe a fortune teller or an omen. Prophet was first used in ancient Greece as a name for a spokesman of Greek gods such as Zeus, Apollo, and Poseidon. As religion develops throughout history, so does the meaning of the word. Pop Culture has added to prophet’s several definitions to include wizards and magical-like figures.
Almost every religious book contains a prophet. The first prophet in literature pertains to the Greek gods. It first appears in Classical Latin and means a divinely inspired interpreter of the will of God. The next religion and language to ...view middle of the document...

Mentioning Nathan the prophet allows Nathaniel Hawthorne to set a comparison between Nathan, who is pure and religious, and Hester Prynne. The fair woman refers to Hester Prynne and how she looks unimportant and out of place among a wall full of prophets.
Although prophet originated as a holy word pertaining to the elites of religion, it has recently been altered to name someone who predicts the outcomes of races and games for gamblers, a person who predicts disasters, and someone magically skilled. Evidence of the alteration first occurs in 1843. “She had been offered to the world, these seven years past, as the living hieroglyphic, in which was revealed the secret they so darkly sought to hide, - all written in this symbol, - all plainly manifest, - had there been a prophet or magician skilled to read the character of flame” (Hawthorne, 180). The context of prophet in this excerpt means someone who predicts the future. This definition was first used in 1225 but was used more commonly in throughout the 16th and 20th centuries.
Not only did the definition of prophet grow throughout the years, but its spelling has changed 44 times. This shows the diverse use of the word and how often it is used in literature. The spelling changes start in the medieval era and end by the 16th century.

The word prophet applies to The Scarlet Letter in several ways because Hester Prynne, Mr. Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth all face religious issues. The quote, “The walls were hung round the tapestry, said to be from the Gobelin looms, and, at all events, representing the Scriptural story of David and Bathsheba, and Nathan the Prophet, in colors still unfaded, but which made the fair woman...

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