One well-known example in Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter is where the scarlet letter "A" pinned to Hester Prynne's breast represents adultery. The scarlet letter also has other, more subtle meanings. Also, the thesis investigates the main resources of Hawthorne's symbolic images. 1.2 Background of the study Symbolism in literature is the deep and hidden meaning in a piece of work. It is often used to represent a moral or religious belief or value.
Critics over the years focused on this search for a hidden significance, and put forward their own interpretation of this "truth." The scarlet letter has thus been assigned almost as many different meanings as there are words beginning with the letter A in the English dictionary. Instead of offering my own A-word as a key to understanding Nathaniel Hawthorne's masterpiece, I would like to focus on the notion of symbol itself, and on the way the author organizes this search for a meaning. The narrator frequently uses this word throughout the romance, and its various occurrences enable us to shape a definition that corresponds to his personal use of symbols. From this starting point, I would like to show how Hawthorne stages the interpretative process within The Scarlet Letter, and how this provides keys for the reader on how to read them.
. . can be seen in Hawthorne’s early story “Young Goodman Brown,” about a young, good man” (321). But symbolism requires more interpretation; “the “A,” for instance, suggests many possibilities which are in themselves contradictory, which would lead us back to one of the many interpretations of the “A,” adultery versus angel” (321). Richard Sewall also considers the scarlet letter “A” to be of main symbols to this novel.
A small crime was considered to be as terrible as the worst of crime, and criminals were punished strictly. For example, a child will be beaten in the town square as a punishment for being ungrateful to his parents. The punishment to Hester Prynne for adultery is the scarlet letter "A" on the front of her dress after seven years prison life. Therefore,at first, the scarlet letter "A" symbolizes "adultery" here and means AD which is short for Arthur Dimmesdale, who is Hester's lover. With the development of plot,the scarlet letter"A" represents "amazon".
Then, in chapter 18, Hawthorne writes, “Thus, we seem to see that, as regarded Hester Prynne, the whole seven years of outlaw and ignominy had been little other than a preparation for this very hour.” Throughout the book, there are various meanings to the scarlet letter. It means different things to different people – a sign of wealth to the butler, curiosity for Pearl, guilt for Dimmesdale, rebelliousness, revenge or motivation for Chillingworth, and betrayal of one’s spouse, to name a few. Regardless, the true duty was to punish and teach a lesson, neither of which the letter
Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter focuses on the choices of paths Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth, the three main characters, whose decisions ultimately decide their fates in the conclusion of the book. The beginning of the book opens with Hester receiving her punishment for adultery. She is publicly displayed holding her baby for her punishment, yet she does not reveal who the father of the baby is. As she is displayed, she is asked by Dimmesdale, the minister and the father of the baby, whether she wants to reveal the other perpetrator to the crowd, but Hester refuses. Momentarily afterwards, Chillingworth, Hester’s husband, is seen in the crowd, and introduced.
But more specifically in chapter 1 where her first interaction with a male figure was given. (Enter textual evidence here), in her diary she gives in great detail of her stepfather raping her and how she felt worthless when she was impregnated. After that she continues to express how even her husband and step-kids never appreciated her and treated her like a slave. It wasn’t till she met Shug and started to make her own pants, and that is when she truly felt that she had a choice and her decisions where based solely off of
It can be said that The Scarlet Letter is a provocative book that filled with symbols. In fact, in this novel, Hawthorne plays with ‘A’ letters to clarify a great meaning and endow his book with the idea of universality. Even those readers who haven’t read The Scarlet Letter know about scarlet letters. Hawthorne has given
Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter has been read by many and interpreted in many ways. Hawthorne is one of the most known symbolists in American Literature and a study of his symbols is necessary to understand his novels. According to the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary a symbol is “a letter, group of letters, character or picture that is used instead of a word or group of words.” Hawthorne uses a great amount of symbols to deal with the sanctities of human heart, the consequence of tragic sin and the impossibility of running away from the consequence of sin. In literature an allegory is a story where characters, objects, and events have a hidden meaning and are used to present some universal lesson. Hawthorne has a perfect atmosphere for the symbols in The Scarlet Letter because the Puritans saw the world through allegory.
What was once considered a mistake is now seen as a mischievous child named Pearl. After her extramarital affair, Hester has to go through the humiliation of standing in front of the entire town wearing her scarlet letter and holding her illegitimate child. She feels remorse for her action: “Thus the young and pure would be taught to look at her, with the scarlet letter flaming on her breast, --at her, the child of honorable parents, --at her, the mother of a babe, that would hereafter be a woman, --at her, who had once been innocent, --as the figure of the body, the reality of sin” (Hawthorne 73). Society sees Hester in various roles but they judge her according to unforgiving rules. While Hester’s “sins” are out in public where all could see, Dimmesdale and Chillingworth hide their debaucheries from public view.