Symbolism in the Scarlet Letter

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Nathaniel Hawthorne uses symbolism to convey the theme that evil and good are in the eye of the beholder. The scarlet “A” that Hester is condemned to wear is a material brand of her sin. To the eyes of the community and Hester herself, the “A” is a sign of adultery, penance, and penitence. Although Hester sees it as this, she is not ashamed of her brand. This is demonstrated in the text “Those who had before known her, and had expected to behold her dimmed and obscured by a disastrous cloud, were astonished, and even startled, to perceive how her beauty shone out, and made a halo of the misfortune and ignomity in which she was enveloped” (40). The letter might be a sign of sin to Hester and the Puritan village, but Pearl sees it as something else entirely. The scarlet letter is both a part and a connection to her mother, for they both are the physical manifestations of Hester’s wrongdoing. After Hester takes of the letter, Pearl refuses to come to her. She refuses to recognize her mother, only coming to her after the “A” has returned to her mother’s bosom. “In a mood of tenderness that was not usual with her, she drew down her mother’s head, and kissed her brow and both her cheeks. But then-by a kind of necessity that always impelled this child to alloy whatever comfort she might chance to give with a throb of anguish-Pearl put up her mouth and kissed the scarlet letter, too” (163). This passage is an example of Pearl’s affection for the brand. After a few years, the Puritan village even begins to see the “A” in a new light. With Hester becoming a frequent visitor in the homes of pain and sorrow, the villagers begin to see the “A’ as a sign of “Able” or even “Angel”. These examples all back up the theme that one thing may seem bad to one person, but to the other, it might be
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