The Scarlet Letter: Symbolism Through The Scaffold

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Honestly, I think that the most obvious theme in The Scarlet Letter would have to be Identity and Society. After Hester is forced by the inhabitants of Boston to wear a badge of shame on her, her denial to leave the town seems pretty odd. She is not physically imprisoned, and leaving the Massachusetts Bay Colony would let her remove the scarlet letter and have a normal life. To Hester, running away or taking the letter off would be showing that society has a power over her: she would be saying that the letter is a mark of embarrassment and something that she desires to escape. Instead, she stays, seeing the scarlet letter as a symbol of her own fault and character. Her sin is a part of who she is; to act like it never happened would mean pushing away a part of herself. So, Hester very determinedly involves her sin in her life. Dimmesdale also fights against a socially determined identity. As the community’s priest, he is more of a symbol than a human being. Other than Chillingworth, those around the minister ignore his anguish, viewing it as holiness. Dimmesdale never really sees the truth of what Hester has learned: that "individuality and strength are gained by quiet self-assertion and by a reconfiguration, not a rejection, of one’s assigned identity". Symbolism is the applied use of any iconic representations, which carry particular conventional meanings. Within The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne incorporates symbolism to expose a deeper meaning in the story. The first and most obvious symbol that Hawthorne displays is the embroidery of the letter “A” given to Hester to wear as a reminder to the town of her adultery. The second symbol is revealed in Chapter XII, when a meteor in the form of a letter “A” lights up the night sky. Finally, Hawthorne reveals symbolism in the scaffold, where many of the important plot points take place. While Dimmesdale stands
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