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A Summary Of The Symbolism In The Scarlet Letter

4796 words - 19 pages

[Abstract]: The Scarlet Letter makes the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorneknown all around the world. Hawthorne uses the symbolism so skillful thatit enhances the artistic effects of his work greatly. This paper researchesthe symbolism in this novel from the following aspects: the changing symbolicmeaning of the scarlet letter, the names of the major characters and manyobjects that are described in the novel to make the symbolism clear tothe readers.[Keywords]: The Scarlet Letter, symbolismNathaniel Hawthorne is considered to be the first greatest Americanfiction writer in the moralistic tradition. His work The Scarlet Letterthat is notable for its allegory and symbolism is regarded as the firstsymbolic novel in American literature. The novel revolves around one majorsymbol: the scarlet letter. Besides, some other objects that are describedin the novel have their symbolic meanings. Moreover, the names of the fourmajor characters': Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworthand Pearl also have their symbolic meanings. The Scarlet Letter is a novelof much symbolic.1. Different meanings of the scarlet letter "A":1.1 The Changes of the Symbolic Meaning of the Scarlet Letter "A".In this novel, the scarlet letter "A" changes its meaning many differenttimes. This change is significant. It shows growth in the characters, andthe community in which they live. The letter "A" begins as a symbol ofsin. It then becomes a symbol of alone and alienation, and finally it becomesa symbol of able, angel and admirable.1.1.1 AdulteryThe letter "A", worn on Hester's bosom, is a symbol of her adulteryagainst Roger Chillingworth. This is the puritan way of treating her asa criminal, for the crime of adultery. The puritan treatment continues,because as Hester walks through the streets, she will be looked down uponas if she is some sort of demon from hell that commits a terrible crime.This letter is meant to be worn in shame, and to make Hester feel unwanted."Here, she said to herself, had been the scene of her guilt, and here shouldbe the scene of her earthly punishment¡­(P74)" Hester is ashamed of hersin, but she chooses not to show it. She commits this sin in the heat ofpassion, and fully admits it because, though she is ashamed, she also receivesher greatest treasure, Pearl, out of it. She is a very strong woman tobe able to hold up so well against what she must face. Many will have fledBoston, and seek a place where no one knows of her great sin. Hester choosesto stay though, which shows a lot of strength and integrity. Any womanwith enough nerve to hold up against a town, which despises her very existence,and to stay in a place where her daughter is referred to as a "devil child,"either has some sort of psychological problem, or is a very tough woman.1.1.2 Alone and AlienationThe scarlet letter "A" also stands for Hester's lonely life in New England.After she is released, Hester lives in a cottage near the outskirts ofthe city. " It had been...

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