Symbols In The Scarlett Letter

1657 Words7 Pages
Symbols in The Scarlet Letter As a romance that includes themes of sin, conformity, identity, and judgment; Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter uses numerous symbols to draw conclusions about the role of society. The story begins by introducing the protagonist, Hester Prynne, who is being punished for her sin of adultery. After years apart from her husband, Hester has had an affair with Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, inevitably bringing a child into the picture. Escaping the punishment of death, Hester and her child are sentenced to lives of isolation. While living in the forest, Hester raises her daughter Pearl and creates a simple life for herself as a seamstress. Prynne is forced to wear a scarlet “A” for “adulterer” on her chest as an example to the townspeople and condemnation for her sin. As Hester grows stronger and begins to regain respect from the town, it is increasingly obvious that Dimmesdale’s secret causes him to become weaker, creating the need for a doctor. While his identity is unknown to all but Hester, her husband, Arthur Chillingworth plays a key role in the novel by serving as Dimmesdale’s doctor after his return to Boston. Throughout the story, Chillingworth acts as torment towards the reverend because of his intent on revenge, only to cause Dimmesdale more struggle and greif. Each character is equally significant in setting up the novel, but perhaps Hawthorne’s most successful manner of communication is the repetition of symbols he utilizes throughout the romance. Such symbols include the scarlet “A”, Pearl, the scaffold in which Hester was punished, and the forest. Although each can be interpreted as individual entities, together the symbols form a larger image about the judgmental and conformist nature of society which causes confusion of identity. The “ignominous letter” that Hester wears is in many ways a specific example of

More about Symbols In The Scarlett Letter

Open Document