preview

Symbolism

Symbolism is defined as the use of of symbols to express or represent ideas in works of art, literature, etc… Nathaniel Hawthorne was an expert in the use of symbolism. The Scarlet Letter is full of symbols which are crucial in understanding the underlying moral and religious concepts that lurk beneath the Puritan society. Some examples of the symbols embedded in the story are the Scarlet A, the meteor, and Pearl..
The scarlet letter is given to Hester after she is condemned an adulterer. Her punishment is to wear the letter “A”, which is stitched in gold and scarlet. The letter is intended to intended as a symbol of shame, since adultery was severely frowned upon and most adulterers were put to death. However, as time passes, the meaning of the symbol slowly changes. Hester did everything in her power to help the world when it needed her. As Hawthorne puts it, “None so ready as she to give of her little substance to every demand of poverty…” (Hawthorne 114). The people found so much helpfulness in her that many people did not interpret the letter A by its original significance. Instead, they viewed the scarlet letter as Able. Hawthorne intended to use the scarlet letter to show how Hester changes over the course of the novel. The Puritans also see this change; however, they do not what goes on when she is by herself.
Another symbol that is linked with the scarlet A is the meteor. The Puritans always attempt to see symbols in nature, which they interpret as messages from God. In Chapter 12, Dimmesdale shrieks while standing upon the scaffold; the scaffold where Hester was condemned. He cannot take the guilt which is gnawing at him inside and he is desperate to seek release. However, the shriek was only a figment of his imaginat...

... middle of paper ...

.... The community sees Dimmesdale as a saint, while Hawthorne portrays him as a morally weak person who cannot confess his sin. Everyone sees Chillingworth as a betrayed husband who is betrayed by his wife. However, Hawthorne shows him to be an evil-minded person who is so consumed with vengeance and hatred that he cannot live when his victim dies. His only purpose in life is to make Dimmesdale’s life miserable; so when the minister dies, Chillingworth has no purpose left so he dies as well. The story of the scarlet letter is extremely relatable in the modern era. People often do not realize that everyone has his/her own story and that people should not jump to conclusions without knowing that story. The kid that is always angry and is always bullied? He could be having family problems. So this is my message: don’t judge a book by its cover, judge a book by its story.
Get Access