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.