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Symbolism In Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter

2391 words - 10 pages

The Scarlet letter is the work of Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter is emotionally so complex that the symbolism in the story can be hard to figure out. The Scarlet Letter is based on sin, guilt, and evil. Hester has decided to deal with her infidelities in silence and independently. On the other hand Mr. Dimmesdale cannot work up enough courage to confess his part in Hester’s ongoing sin. The symbolism in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is significant to understanding the scarlet “A”, Pear, and the meteor.
The Scarlet letter is the most significant symbol of the entire story. The work of Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter is emotionally so complex that the symbolism in the story can be hard to figure out (Whipple). The setting of The Scarlett letter is in puritan time which Mr. Hawthorne has made the book more realistic by putting puritan rules and ways thorough out the story(Lanzen Harris). The scarlet letter is a scarlet and gold badge that is carefully embroidered by Hester Prynne to be worn upon her breast to show that she is adultery (Hawthorne 155). The letter is a symbol of the passionate love scandal Hester has had with Mr. Dimmesdale who is the young pastor of the church.
Hester came into Salem a married woman, but her husband did not arrive with her (Hawthorne178). She told the towns people she was awaiting his arrival. Then after Hester Prynne was with child, the town’s people knew that Hester had had relations with a man who was not her husband but they did not know who. Hester's Scarlett letter then stood for her act of adultery. By making the Scarlett letter visible for the rest of the town to see, it is meant to shame Hester and remind her of her sin.
The meaning to the symbol “A” began to change as Hester did community service and helps those who are less fortunate than her. The people who Hester helps still treats Hester like trash because of the scarlet letter even though she helps care for them and she continues to care for them because of her guilt (Hawthorne 242). “Except for that small expenditure in the decoration of her infant, Hester bestowed all her superfluous means in charity, or wretches less miserable than herself, and who not infrequently insulted the hand the hand that fed them” (Hawthorne 238). As time passes the “A” to Hester and the rest of the townspeople no longer stands for adultery. It then begins to stand for abler. “The letter was the symbol of her calling. Such helpfulness was found in her-so much power to do, and power to sympathies that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Abel, so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman's strength” (Hawthorne 461). Hester then begins to feel the way she did before the sin.
The scarlet letter “A” was symbol of Hester's identity. At the Election Day pageant the Native Americans and sailors from the ship who has not known the story behind the scarlet letter thought it meant Hester was of important...

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