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Signs In The Scarlet Letter Essay

791 words - 4 pages

The Scarlet Letter shows Nathaniel Hawthorne’s way of using various signs to evolve the characters and help them atone for their sins and rid their fear of consequences. “A sign has tremendous power to communicate a message that transcends the sign itself.” (Gray 19) The Scarlet Letter involves an adulterous scandal between the two main characters, and how they live with the embarrassment and shame that comes with the sin. Hawthorne’s use of different signs such as the “A” and the scaffold help accompany the reader in understanding each character. Through Hawthorne’s writing, the reader gains a deeper meaning of the story, and that is achieved through signs.
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Hester Prynne, the protagonist, is introduced as a woman who committed adultery. As shown on the cover of the book itself, the “A” is the most important and well known sign of The Scarlet Letter. This letter is the representation of her sin, letting the people around her know what she had done. As the book states, “It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself.” (Hawthorne) The townspeople already knew how much this “A” would affect Prynne and her future family as soon as she walked out of the prison, as written by Hawthorne. This letter depicted evil and her fellow citizens avoided her at all costs because of it.
Prynne’s response to having to wear the sign on her clothes, at first, is not a good one. She is embarrassed and ashamed by it, knowing that people are to judge her every where she goes. All of the townspeople gave her looks and treated her as nothing more than a criminal. “Lonely as was Hester's situation, and without a friend on earth who dared to show himself…” (Hawthorne)
By the end of the book, Prynne realizes the good that has come out of wearing the...

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