Scarlet Letter

Symbolism is traditionally a sign or token of something.

In the matterof literature, the definition of the literary device, symbolism, ismore complicated. Symbols of literature are usually metaphysical. Themain symbol of The Scarlet Letter is the red “A” that Hester Prynne wassentenced to wear on her chest. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s intention was tomake the meaning of the crimson token worn on the bosom of HesterPrynne is highly ambiguous. In this he was successful.

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Although the”A” means “adulteress” to the people of Boston, to reader the “A” mayhave other meanings such as “American” or “able”. To the townspeople,author, and reader clearly the original intention of the “A” was tostand for “adulteress”. When Hester Prynne became pregnant during theabsence of her husband she was accused and convicted of adultery.

Hersentence was to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her bosom to let everyoneknow that she was an adulteress, forevermore. Because of her uniquesentence everyone knew that she was, in fact, an adulteress and peopletreated her that way. Society condemned her for her sin, withoutknowing anything else. Hester was forced to live alone on theoutskirts of the city. She was a seamstress, but got very littlebusiness. When she used her skills to decorate the “A”, things onlygot worse.

People felt that she was trying to show off the fact thatshe was an adulteress, or that she was proud to be. Hester’s daughter,Pearl, was constantly ridiculed by other children for being an “evil”,”devil” child. Clearly it was the first intention of the symbol toreve! al that Hester Prynne was an adulteress.

Although the firstintention of the “A” was to mark Hester Prynne as an adulteress, italso has other, more abstract meanings. The letter has a relation tothe word, “American”. Hester Prynne’s “A” reflects an “American”meaning in various ways. For one, America is a melting pot of manypeoples and ideas, as was Hester’s “A”.

She earned that “A” undercertain situations. She was in a loveless marriage. She had beenseparated from her husband for 2 years. She thought he might be at thebottom of the sea. She was in love with another man. She wasperceived and punished under a strict Puritan eye. Like thedevelopment of America, the were many conditions that led to thedeveloped of Hester’s “A”. Another way that Hester Prynne’s “A”symbolizes America, is that they were both shaped by past actions.

Nomatter how Hester had changed, since her act of adultery, at any pointin her life, she was forever damned to be labeled as an adulteress withthe “A”. The symbol of ! the scarlet letter shaped who Hesterbecame. America was shaped by everything that happened in her past.All the various people and cultures, mistakes she made, and herrelationships with other countries. Along with meaning “adulteress” or”American”, Hester Prynne’s letter “A” stood for “able”. Hester Prynnewas a very able woman. She was too strong of a woman for PuritanBoston right from the start. That was known from the very beginning ofthe novel when she faced the people of Boston with her sentence and herdignity.

She always held her head high. She was able to accept herpunishment. She was able to take with pride all the torment thetownspeople could throw at her. Hester was also an able mother, nurseand seamstress. Despite everyone’s talk about Pearl, Hester never letthat interfere with her mothering Pearl.

She was able to bring up astrong daughter. Hester had a strong devotion to her work as a nurse.She also went on with her work as a seamstress. Hester’s mostimportant accomplishment was her ability to overcome her sentence. Sheaccepted her sin and accepted herself.

She learned to love who shewas. By accepting herself other people began to foll! ow her exampleand embrace who she was, not what she was labeled as. The main symbolof Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is the red letter “A” thatHester Prynne wore on her chest.

This is the most important symbol ofthe story, and symbolism is a major literary device of the story. Themain character, Hester Prynne wore the letter throughout the story, andthe letter took every road that the story did. The letter became onewith Hester and Hester became the meaning of the scarlet letter.

Scarlet Letter

Scarlet Letter Since early times, Puritans have been known for their morality in discipline, religious intolerance, and harsh punishments for those defying their beliefs. These Puritan influences had a great impact on early American literature.

Nathaniel Hawthorne provides an illustrated look into the Puritans and their community in his classic The Scarlet Letter. Through Hawthorne’s use of tone, allusions with Hester and Dimmesdale, and the diction that is used to describe how the village behaves during the multiple scaffold scenes he provides a disapproval for these rigid moralists’ extreme way of life. Hawthorne’s use of tone has revealed his feelings regarding the Puritans. He starts out relatively early in the book describing these people as being of the most intolerant brood (86) unveiling at once the lack of understanding they had.

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Finding out about Hester and Pearl, the village at once scorned them in their hearts, and..reviled them with their tongues (86) exposing to us the discriminating disposition that the Puritans have for those who were not exactly like them or followed their rules. The tone that is inferred from the harsh words allows us to see the negative attitude that the narrator feels for these Protestants. Along with the tone of voice that we can almost hear speak to us with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s rich yet somewhat chilling vocabulary is the allusion among the Puritans and their influence.

As the Puritans could see that the same scorching stigma was on them both! (225), Nathaniel Hawthorne alluded to the same marks on the crucified Christ, disclosing how scornful the convictions by the Puritans were. As he discusses the generations to come of puritanical influence, Hawthorne sees them wearing the blackest shade of Puritanism (211).This allusion allows us to see the perniciousness that flourished inside of the Puritans and how it was carried on from one generation to another.

The allusions displaying the author’s feelings of the religious intolerance of the Puritans are further developed with his choice of diction during the scaffold scenes. The Puritans’ feelings were so lacking of compassion that they were stern enough to look upon her deathwithout a murmur but had none of the heartlessness of another social state. (53). This implied that when faced with death of a betrayer they would not have a reaction because their commiseration was completely devoted towards social applications.

Meagre, indeed, and cold was the sympathy (47) that the Puritans offered towards Hester in her vulnerable moments aloft the scaffold. This sympathy that is described all reinforces the authors attitude towards them. The Puritans, though credited for their belief in good education and orderliness, were viewed through a disapproving attitude by Nathaniel Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter. The Puritanical berating disposition is created through his use of dark tone, religious and evil allusions of Hester and Dimmesdale, and the diction chosen to describe Hester’s torment atop the scaffold. Through the author’s suggested attitudes we, the readers, can see that social allegiance can sometimes mean the abandonment of good morals like caring for your fellow citizen.English Essays.

Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, delivers a powerful novel invokedwith symbolism.

Centered on Hester, a woman branded with a scarlet “A” as amark for adultery, much of the Scarlet Letters symbolism grows from thecruel, and shameful letter. The “A” symbolizes the “walking emblem ofshame.” (Hawthorne 6). Throughout the novel, the brand of disgust evolvesaround the characters influenced by Hester, including her illegitimate childPearl. Even Pearl is subject to the shame her mother has bore, and is alsoshunned from the strict Puritan society. The close of the novel reveals that thesymbol has given Hester strength to redeem her sin, rather then brake herspirits. The adulterous mark is almost replaced by the community as “able”due to Hesters deeds to the community.

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Scarlet Letter also uses nature’sflowers as a way to symbolize growth in the novel. The opening chapter describesa rosebush growing by the prison. It shows how even a beautiful flower like therose can be judged as sacrificial, with its petals near the jail. This relatesto Hester, as her beautiful character is judged by sin, not by actions. Later inthe novel, Chillingworth, Hesters husband, expresses to let the “blackflower blossom as it may.” (Hawthorne 14).

This reoccurrence of the flowershows how Chillingworth accepts his tortuous soul. The flower’s bloom is adirect symbol for the growth of character in Scarlet Letter. Clothing is a finalsource Hawthorne uses to symbolize.

In chapter 7, Pearl is dressed in a redgown, with gold trim. The dress of Pearl is almost identical to the brand Hestermust endure, with her scarlet brand. Chillington is dressed in black, whichgives an insight into his sinister character, as revealed in chapter 14. Also,the use of bright color, like red, and gold expresses how different Hester andPearl are viewed by the Puritan society, which mainly dresses in plain,emotionless colors. The brand of sin is reflected in all the aspects ofHesters life, which show how clothing in Scarlet Letter drastically reflectssituation, and character.

Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter gives a tremendousimpression on the reader, filled with oppression, and historical opinion of thePuritans. Unfortunately, as the novel appears to mirror reality, situations inthe storyline leave the reader skeptical about the actual ability to performthese actions. Hesters sudden removal of the scarlet brand bestowed upon herseems very unrealistic, considering it took seven years to remove it so quickly,and carefree. It almost makes the symbol of the scarlet letter obsolete at theend of the chapter 18, leaving insinuation that the letter did not have as muchinfluence as formerly expressed. The Scarlet Letter also confuses the readerduring chapters after 20.

The final pages of the novel give a completelydifferent perspective. Generally focused on the main characters, during chapter21, and 22, the market gives a more broad insight into the community. While itmakes for interesting reading, the sudden change of perspective leaves thereader strayed from the main characters, like Hester, and Pearl. The ScarletLetter is a very intriguing novel, for anyone looking to find a tale of Puritanlife, and the harsh reality of the times.

Overall, the Scarlet Letter deliversan exciting, and interesting view for all readers.


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