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A Reveiw Of The Scarlet Letter

1739 words - 7 pages

The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a novel that takes place in aPuritan community during the middle of the seventeenth century. The story is about awoman named Hester Prynne who has an affair with a man by the name of ReverendArthur Dimmesdale. This occurred after her husband inexplicably failed to join her inBoston after their emigration to American from Europe. Hester soon gives birth to a child, and is from then on condemned by her fellow townspeople. This condemnationconsists of the town forcing her to wear an "A" upon her bosom. Throughout the bookthe letter A takes various shapes and forms for different people.The first person for whom the letter "A" takes shape for is Hester Prynne. ForHester the "A" can represent adulteress, ashamed, artist, able, armor, and alienation. An adulteress is someone who commits adultery, voluntary sexual intercourse betweena married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse. Hester commits adulterywhen she engages in sexual intercourse with Reverend Dimmesdale, a man who is nother husband. Her deed is found out when Hester becomes pregnant, a task notpossible by her husband since he had been missing for some odd number of years.The term adulteress is placed down on her as a punishment for going against the puritan ways and havingintercourse with a man other than her husband. The "A" is supposed to be used as a formof punishment but Hester does not see it that way. The town places the A upon her bosombecause it "is meant to be a symbol of shame, but instead it becomes a more powerfulsymbol of identity to Hester. The letter's meaning shifts as time passes (Sparknotes, 7)."They wanted her to be "ashamed" of what she has done. To the puritans, adultery is avery high crime and in most cases would get a penalty of death, but because of Hestersbeauty, she was merle given town shame. When she was told to make the "A" for herselfto represent adulteress, she showed off her artistic ability. When she came out on thescaffold to stand as a part of her punishment, the townspeople for the first time saw her"A." It was "on the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborateembroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold-thread.... It was so artistically done, and withso much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it had all the effect of a last andfitting decoration of apparel which she wore... (Hawthorne 51)." Even a female spectatorcommented on how "she [Hester] hath good skill at her needle (Hawthorne 52)."Also, for Hester, the letter A takes on armor and alienation. The "A" is likeHesters' armor from the world. All Hester can see is the letter A, the scarlet letter, andshe herself is hidden behind that letter. The armor is symbolic of many things. One, societynow sees Hester as an adulteress. They see nothing else to her, and so it is as if Hester theperson is gone, and only the woman wearing the letter is left. Secondly, Hester herselfhides behind the letter. This way...

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