Though many novels and short stories differ drastically in their plot lines and authors, they share similar motifs within their writing. These common motifs have been identified by Thomas Foster, and have been bound in many sorts of literature. A Foster motif that is relevant in literature read so far in class, is one identified as, “Flights of Fancy”. This motif refers to the symbolic meaning of flying, which can be described as freedom, escape, or flight of imagination. Quite often, characters within a narrative yearn to escape the societies they live in, or be free from the lives they are currently living. Such literature includes The Scarlet Letter and The Age of Innocence. In The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale have dealt with the ramifications for committing the sins of adultery for quite some time, and have come to grow tired of it, and seek a new beginning. Hester wishes to leave it all behind, including her husband, Roger Chillingworth. Hester voices her opinion on leaving her society behind in chapter 17 in the following quotation:
There is a broad pathway of the sea! Thou art crushed under this seven years’ weight of misery, but thou shalt leave it all behind thee…Leave this wreck and ruin here where it hath happened! Meddle no more with it! Begin all anew! (Hawthorne 558)
This section of the passage evinces Hester’s desire to go across the sea with Dimmesdale, and leave all of the horrific seven years of the past behind. She wants to escape the grasp of her current society, and begin all anew in a place where they will not know of her past. This is a prime example of the “Flights of Fancy” motif, as it portrays desires of escape and freedom within the book’s characters. A quotation from Chapter 23 in The Age of Innocence displays Newland Archer’s yearning, such as, “He longed to ask Madame Olenska if she did not have the same feeling: the feeling that they were starting on some long voyage from which they might never return…drifting forth into this unknown world…a fresh world of ruffled waters” (153). From this small excerpt from the book, it can be seen that Newland enjoys the boat ride with Ellen because for him it feels like he is escaping his New York society and dreams of going far away to place where he could have his relationship with Ellen and be free. The feeling of moving forth into this new world away from his old society, is “fresh” and a good feeling for him. This is an ideal example of Foster’s motif, as it explicitly shows Newland’s flight of imagination to escape and be free with Ellen. The Foster motif of “Flights of Fancy” can be seen in many different types of literature, as it is a common theme used by majority of authors.