Symbols in the Scarlet Letter

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Symbols in the Scarlet Letter

This essay will examine the symbolism in “The Scarlet Letter.” It will analyze key symbols such as the scarlet letter itself, the scaffold, and the forest, and how they contribute to the novel’s themes and character development. Also at PapersOwl you can find more free essay examples related to The Scarlet Letter.

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Hawthorne presents numerous of symbols throughout The Scarlet Letter. He uses them to show the purpose of the “A” and ways it develop its significance over time. These symbols have a pessimistic and affirmative impact on a few of the characters in the novel including Hester Prynne, Pearl, and Dimmesdale. All of these characters either represent or connect to the meaning of the sin. Hawthorne causes each of the individuals have a different effect on ways society acknowledges their sin.

Hesters “A” represents the sin she commits which is adultery with the minister, Dimmesdale.

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As soon as society detected her affair they were astonished and bewildered being that they not expect such a innocent and beautiful women to commit anything awful as this. There were certain people that believed she should be disciplined way more severe than what she has now. As a few people gossip about Hester, she is about to approach on the scaffold as one person says, “At the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynne’s forehead. Then another says, “This woman brought shame upon us and ought to die” (2). Most of the civilization had different opinions on Hester’s punishment. Some considered she should not live while others think she has virtue but would spring out overtime which happens towards the end of the novel. The value of the “A” begins to ease off into a inspirational along with a exceptional thing into society. It states, ” The scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the world’s scorn and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe.” decided that the Scarlet Letter is in fact important and whether others believe that it is shameful to wear Hester accepts it as a part of her identity and focuses on accepting herself than feeling pity. She becomes a great example for others who are afraid of other women who are in the same situation.

Someone else that demonstrates the Scarlet Letter is Hester’s daughter, Pearl. Pearl is a living version of her mother’s scarlet letter. Society thinks Pearl is a devilish child and is strange little girl. It states, “… she an imp of evil, emblem and product of sin” (6). Pearl threw rocks at other children, she made adults fearful of her making them run away, and so much more. Even though Pearl is a reminder to Hester of her sin she is also a blessing to her mother. Pearl gives a reason for Hester to live for. At times Hester is tempted to start over but realizes that Pearl will need her in the future to look up to. Pearl also has a unique power that makes her detect the cause of the Scarlet Letter on her mother’s chest and observes things around her. A example of this is in chapter 16 when Pearl says, ” . “And, mother, he has his hand over his heart!…But why does he not wear it outside his bosom, as thou dost, mother?”. She notices the Dimmesdale and Hester has somewhat of the same mark over their chest and tries to figure it out . From start to finish Pearl asks her mother many questions to know the meaning of the Scarlet Letter. When approaching the end of the book Pearl became one of the richest people of her time. This brought a “material change in “the public estimation”. The Puritan community had forgotten about the Scarlet Letter and also Pearl.

Lastly Dimmesdale establishes the essence of the “A”. The society in the beginning of the book did not take thought of Dimmesdale committing a affair with Hester. However Chillingworth was suspicious of him. When Dimmesdale falls asleep reading a book on his chest Chillingworth steps in the room ” without any extraordinary precaution”. Chillingworth lays his hands on Dimmesdale bosom and moves his vestment aside and sees something that the readers do not find out. He then figures out Hester and Dimmesdale had an affair. He plots vengeance on Reverend Dimmesdale and in the end of the chapter he is described. ” But what distinguished the physician’s ecstasy from Satan’s was the trait of wonder in it!” Towards the end of the book Pearl tell Dimmesdale the only way she will love him is if he confesses in front of all the people. Dimmesdale is a bit hesitant but proceed with the order. Dimmesdale is a minister and is afraid of what society might think of him. A few days after he tells the people about his doings and shortly after dies. Many people had different explanations of how this came about. Some say that on the day Hester wore the Scarlet Letter he began to torture himself. Others say that the sigma didn’t happen until Chillingworth had taken care of him and used his magic and poisonous drugs on him. Others, again understood that his spirit was remorse and the symbol was haunting his soul affected by “Heaven’s dreadful judgement by the visible presence of the letter”. Society was shocked about his reveal.

All of the the characters tie to the Scarlet letter and reveals how it affect their lives. Some was a positive change in their life and other not quite. Society also had a importance on how the characters reacted. Society seen Hester’s sin as inspiring and a way of standing up for women. On the other hand for Dimmesdale the community were a bit stumped because they did not expect a minister to do a act. They make assumptions for reasons he decided to confess and how he felt. Pearl however was in the middle of both of them. They thought of her a as devil child but was later forgotten of. These reasons demonstrate ways characters are were effect by the Scarlet Letter and the Puritan society also are involved in the characters react .

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Symbols In The Scarlet Letter. (2019, Aug 25). Retrieved from