Symbolism In Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'The Scarlet Letter A'

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Throughout the infamous novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the reader is met with a lot of symbolism, from the rosebush to the scaffold and of course the most obvious symbol of them all, the scarlet letter “A”. While the most evident meaning or symbolism behind the scarlet letter “A” is that it stands for adultery, the scarlet letter can actually represent a lot more depending on the context it is placed in. Throughout the novel, the scarlet letter “A” morphs in meaning. The letter goes from standing for adultery, to strength, growth, ableness, power and much more. Initially, the letter “A” is worn as a penance, and it symbolic of shame. The letter is a form of punishment for the sinful acts committed by Hester. From the beginning of the novel…show more content…
At this point in the story, the letter “A” in the sky is symbolic of Dimmesdale’s hidden sin, at least hidden to the town’s people considering that Pearl and Chillingworth are aware of this mark. The red letter in the sky in this chapter and part of the book is also seen as a symbol of an angel, at least to the townspeople it is . They believe that the illuminating “A” in the sky is symbolizing their late governor Winthrop’s death and perhaps that now he is an angel, “The good old minister came freshly from the death-chamber of Governor Winthrop, who had passed from earth to heaven within that very hour.” (Hawthorne 148) Throughout the novel, the Scarlet Letter it is evident that the scarlet letter’s meaning morphed into different things. Starting off as a pure symbol of adultery and deemed solely for punishment the scarlet letter later stood for abel and although meant to punish Hester it actually benefited her as a person. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s decision to change the red letter’s meaning in the story helps drive the plot and add depth and complexity to the tale. From adultery and sin to strength and ableness the scarlet letters meaning is the driving force in this
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