Allusions to the Crucifixion of Christ in Literature



The crucifixion of Christ is arguably the most significant as well as the most recognizable scene of the entire Bible. Even those who do not practice Christianity are generally familiar with the story of Jesus of Nazareth being nailed to a cross with a crown of thorns on his head. This motif has carried over into many significant works of literary merit over the course of time.

One obvious example of this specific scene in the Bible being alluded to in literature is in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”, when Hester Prynne is up on the scaffold in front of the whole town. She is ostracized and jeered at by the townspeople, just like Jesus was when he was carrying, and later hanging on the cross. When Hester is forced to wear the letter “A” on her chest as a constant reminder of her sin, it is an allusion to Jesus having to carry his own cross up the mountain and then be nailed to it to die.

Some other examples of the crucifixion in literature are:

  • Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • King Oedipus in Oedipus the King by Sophocles

The picture at the top exemplifies the similarities between the disgraced protagonists of both works.  The image of Hester up on the scaffold wearing the letter “A” looks very similar in many ways to the one of Jesus hanging on the cross.

This entry was posted in AP Mindset, Biblical Allusions, Honors English III, Religion, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Allusions to the Crucifixion of Christ in Literature

  1. 15lr says:

    This is a very lucid analysis of the presence of a bible motif in literature. The ideas are expressed clearly and articulated well. Additionally, the image attached is appropriate and clearly relates to the post. A suggestion for improvement is to label the post with a more creative title.

  2. 15glh says:

    In this analysis, I like how you compared Hester on the Pedestal to Jesus nailed to the cross because it makes me think that Hester could potentially symbolize Jesus in The Scarlet Letter. Both characters are punished for religious matters, and end up majorly impacting their surroundings. I also like the images you chose because they give a good visual while reading the prompt. This post would be even better if you described more about the symbolism of being on the pedestal and the cross.

  3. jteich17 says:

    Your parallelism is on spot, and your ideas are articulated in a clear, concise fashion. What do you think the similarities between Hester and Jesus mean symbolically? To improve the post, you could further explicate the connection between the crucifixion and Hester’s role in puritanical society.

  4. juliaharris27 says:

    This is a great connection that utilizes the scaffold as a tangible connection between Jesus’ crucifixion and Hester’s public shaming. It might be interesting to consider Hester’s role as a prophet. As a character, how are her motives and reasons for being humiliated similar to Jesus’?

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