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Scarlet Letter: Puritan Times Essay

1661 words - 7 pages

Nathaniel Hawthorne's, The Scarlet Letter is a book about a woman, Hester, who moves to Boston from England during the Puritan times. She has a husband, and tells the colonists of Boston he will be arriving to be with her soon. After years go by and he doesn't arrive, Hester finds another man whom she becomes close to. She becomes pregnant and the town finds out she has committed adultery. She is forced to wear a letter "A," meaning "adulteress," on her bosom for the rest of her life. The book focuses mainly on the sin that was committed; it affected the whole community. The scarlet letter had one basic meaning, "adultery," but to the characters of Hester and Dimmesdale it was a constant reminder of the sin; and to Pearl it was a symbol of curiosity.Obviously, the scarlet letter had the largest impact on Hester, it was a constant reminder of the sin she committed. The "A" she must wear on her bosom completely humiliates her in front of everyone she meets, she begins to even hide behind it, trying to conceal her identity. Hawthorne is referring to Hester in the quote, "The unhappy culprit sustained herself as best a woman might, under the heavy weight of a thousand unrelenting eyes, all fastened upon her and concentred on her bosom" (55). Hester is doing everything possible to keep her sanity. So many people are staring at her as if she's the most unfaithful, awful person in the world. She knows that she will never regain the respect she had before this incident. The scarlet letter she wears will constantly remind her and the townspeople that she is a sinner. While at Governor Bellingham's mansion, Hester can't help but notice while looking into the shining armor how much the "A" stands out. The "A" is seen "in exaggeration and gigantic proportions, so as to be greatly the most prominent feature of her appearance. In truth, she seemed absolutely hidden behind it" (102). Right then and there, she realizes how much the "A" has become a part of her. She believes if the "A" becomes magnified in her reflection, the people who look at her must only notice the scarlet letter. She sees herself as if her true appearance is being hidden behind the "A." She feels that no one looks at her anymore, just the letter. The scarlet letter has ruined her reputation, as well as her appearance. On Hester and Pearl's way to Governor Bellingham's mansion, Hawthorne talks about the way Pearl is dressed. Pearl was described as "the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed with life!" (98). Hester dresses her daughter up like the scarlet letter. Pearl's dress matched the scarlet letter; it was a scarlet color with gold embroidering. Hester made the dress like that to prove that Pearl was the object of her affection. By looking at Pearl, Hester was also reminded of the guilt and torture she had been put through. Hester has no way to get rid of the guilt she felt for committing adultery because the result of the sin was Pearl.In Dimmesdale's mind, the "A"...

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