Symbolism In The Scarlett Letter Essay, Research Paper
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a novel about a woman named Hester Prynne. In the novel Hester has committed adultery. The novel tells about her struggles and how she deals with them. The novel shows symbolism as well with the letter A . The significance of the letter changes from the beginning of the book to the end. According to the Elements of Literature pg. 1202, a symbol is a person, place, thing, or event that has a meaning in itself and it also stands for something more than what it is.
In the beginning of the story the letter A , which Hester has to wear upon her breast is a symbol of sin it shows that she has committed adultery against her husband Roger Chillingworth. This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die . (Pg. 43) From that day on Hester is isolated from the rest of the town and looked as and treated as a sinner. The letter A was a symbol for everyone to see that she has committed a sin. When the townspeople see that she is wearing the letter A they know that she is a sinner and has committed adultery she is looked down upon by the people of the town.
In the middle of the book as several years have passed the meaning of the letter A starts to change. Instead of it meaning adultery it means something else which is a good meaning. The reason for this is because she starts to create beautiful needlework and she helps the people who are poor and sick. The letter was the symbol of her calling. Such helpfulness was found in her — so much power to do and power to sympathize — that many people refused to interpret the scarlet ‘A’ by its original signification (Pg. 141).
At the end of the novel the better way the letter A is looked at by the townspeople is totally different than it is looked as at the beginning. The people no longer consider her the woman who committed adultery. Do you see that woman with the embroidered badge? It is our Hester- the town’s own Hester- who is so kind to the poor, so helpful to the sick, so comforting to the afflicted. (Pg. 142) The townspeople believe the letter is more of a badge and it blocks off evil and the people start to no longer consider Hester as a sinner and they start to like her.
In conclusion the author uses a lot of symbolism in this novel. He leaves it open and lets readers interpret his novel in many different ways. People can determine themselves if what happens to Hester is right or wrong. In the novel Hester overcomes the shame of the sin that she has committed through the goodness and purity she has in her heart. Since she was kind and helped the townspeople she didn t deserve what happened to her.