Scarlett Letter

875 WordsMay 22, 20124 Pages
The Scarlet Letter Symbols Throughout the book the author uses many symbols to represent the themes in the book. The most obvious and well known is the scarlet letter which Hester is forced to wear. Hester, a knitter by trade, sees the letter as a burden laid on by society, an act of guilt that she is forced to wear. The scarlet letter is symbolic in a number of different ways, but perhaps mostly in the ways that the sinners have to wear it. The Scarlett Letter “A” symbolizes the immoral act of adultery but by the end of the novel the "A" has revealed much more meaning than that. The "A" appears in many other places than on the chest of Hester Prynne. It also appears on Dimmesdale’s chest. Dimmesdale sees the “A” as a reminder of his guilt. Dimmesdale, however, as the town minister, wears his own scarlet “A” burned upon his flesh, since it is the community's rage he fears the most. Chillingworth sees the “A” as a quest for revenge to find the adulterer. Chillingworth's misshapen body reflects (or symbolizes) the anger in his soul, which builds as the novel progresses, similar to the way Dimmesdale's illness reveals his inner turmoil. The “A” also stands for "Angel" when it is seen in the sky on the night when Hester and Dimmesdale are standing on the scaffold together. One of the most complex and misunderstood characters in the novel is Pearl, the daughter of Hester Prynne. Pearl’s life and behavior directly reflects the unacceptable and abnormal nature of Hester’s adulterous sin. Hester is plagued with more than just a letter “A”; she is given a child from her affair who is just as much a reminder of her sin as the scarlet letter. Pearls behavior could be described as abnormal, disrespectful, undignified, or altogether opposite of most Puritan customs. “The child could not be made amenable to rules”. Although Pearl changes, she always symbolizes evil.

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