She shows how women can only be categorised as either an angel or a whore. It shows the way that women can only be judged at the time. She also frequently alludes to the “bad” women in literature to show how women could only be categorised in those binary opposites like Lady Macbeth or Eve. She uses rhetorical devices to explain how bad women are needed to disrupt the static order which is Patriarchy. Atwood also shows her opposition to the extreme feminism that existed in her time where feminism was influencing the creation of literature at the time.
The scarlet letter which stands for the ignominious Puritan punishment for Adultery is skilfully used by Hawthorne to denounce their rigidity. It is used as if it were a magical mirror, it magnifies the protagonists’ stances on the Puritans’ creed and judgement and has a deep impact on the characters’ development and how Hawthorne has lead them on different paths. First and foremost, the scarlet letter, as the symbol of the Puritan rigid conception of life, enables the narrator to depict the Puritans’ punishment as overreacting to a so-called sinful behaviour. As far as Hester Prynne is concerned, the scarlet letter, which first symbolises her sin, enables her to become, in the end, the embodiment of virtue and freedom of thought and to lie in sharp contrast with the Puritans. On the contrary, imprisoned in the Puritan way of thinking, the scarlet letter leads Arthur Dimmesdale to his fall.
It felt to Hester as though the red cloth emanated a “burning heat; and as if the letter were not of red cloth, but red-hot iron” (30). As beautiful and as ornately designed as the letter was, it was created as a symbol of shame to be worn by Hester and to be seen and condemned by everyone in the town. Hawthorne’s decision for the letter to be red can be seen as symbolic, as the color can represent the pain that Hester has with the situation. It can also be seen as the death of her innocence as she is judged by society. Later in the novel the color red is used to describe Pearl, called a “scarlet vision” by the narrator (101).
Biblically, we all are sinners. We all “fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) But, the way Hawthorne uses the Puritan society seems to contradict that statement. The way the society acts strict and unforgiving towards the main character, Hester Prynne, who is the novel’s protagonist and the wearer of the scarlet letter “A”, which signifies that she is an “adulterer”, expresses the hypocrisy of the Puritans. This is clearly shown through the exclusion, the badge of infamy, and the resent of Hester’s only treasure-Pearl. ** Clearly, Hester’s sin was out in the open for everyone to see.
She knows well that she has violated the state’s law by burying her brother. However, Antigone understands that by doing so, she is “guilty of the holiest crime”. Though, we can realize that Antigone places her conscience and ethical values upon divine laws. Creon unsuccessfully convinces Antigone to admit her act as wrong and condemn her to death as a result. The consistency of Antigone’s act in accordance with her own conscience and values which are determined by divine laws coupling with Creon’s totalitarianism make her civil disobedience justified.
Punishment in The Scarlet Letter In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, physical punsihment is nothing compared to how the mind can cause punishment. In the Scarlet Letter, Hester Phynne is isolated by the members of Purtian society and left with her child Pearl, a constent reminder of her sin. Dimmesdale’s choice to not feese up to his sin leaves him with mental punishment that makes him sicker and weaker. Chillingsworth does not receive pain, but he does inflict pain to those around him. The main characters of The Scarlet Letter are left to tourment by themselves, the worst punishment of them all.
Research on the symbolism of the “A” in The Scarlet Letter Steven Bolzenius Senior Composition, seventh Hour 14 October 2013 The Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the scarlet letter “A” that Hester Prynne is forced to wear is a sign of her sin and charity. Nathaniel Hawthorne used this letter to represent the good and evil that every human posses. The Scarlet Letter was interpreted differently for each character. Hester chose to wear the scarlet letter with dignity and grace despite the shame and disgrace that surround her wearing the letter. Hester Prynne used the letter as an example of hypocrisy that made up the puritan church at the time.
Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter is a hardworking symbol, it represents: adultery, sin, hard work, skill, charity, righteousness, sacredness, and, of course, grace. At first, there is no doubt that it symbolizes the sin of adultery, and Hester wears it as punishment. From the very beginning, she is not willing to let it dictate the terms of her punishment. “On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter 'A.' It was so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it had all the effect of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel which she wore; and which was of a splendor in accordance with the taste of the age, but greatly beyond what was allowed by the sumptuary regulations of the colony” (Cain 630).
Although Hester made the decision of committing adultery, the reason she lives on is her dealing with the scarlet letter that she is given to exhibit to the town. Instead of mourning and hiding her letter, Hester does the exact opposite of what
He’s had enough misery, thanks to you”’ (37). Immediately, Truus is connected to Anton’s family’s deaths. However, the environment, which has a sliver of light in a sea of darkness, reflects the complexity of her actions, which are not entirely dark either. Truus herself attempts to justify the assassination in the name of light: “‘Hate is the darkness, that’s no good. And yet we’ve got to hate Fascists, and that’s considered perfectly all right.