As the literature unfolds the meaning of the crimson letter shining on Hester Prynne’s bosom subtlety changes from meaning adulterer, to able and finally the “A” becomes a symbol for angel. It is impossible to understand how the meaning of the scarlet letter transforms as the novel progress without first understanding its literal meaning and how it affects Hester. At the beginning of the novel Hester is depicted to be standing on the scaffold with the scarlet letter as bright as ever glinting on her chest. In the Puritan faith adultery was considered to be the most ignominious offence and the punishment was public humiliation and the burden of the scarlet letter, and its ubiquitous wrath haunting your every move. The disheartening insults that Hester was bombarded with at every corner inevitably made her stronger, “Shame, Despair, Solitude!
Hawthorne utilizes each different meaning of the scarlet letter to make a commentary on the Puritan society. While many readers view the scarlet letter as simply a mark of adultery, it is really a symbol of Hester’s identity. In the beginning, the scarlet letter obtains a negative connotation. In the prologue of the novel, while exploring the attic of the Custom House, the curator finds the scarlet letter, “my eyes fastened themselves upon the old scarlet letter…certainly, there was some deep meaning in it…as if the letter were not of red cloth, but red-hot iron” (Hawthorne 31). Even years after Hester Prynne’s death, the scarlet letter continues to have a negative impact on anyone that views it.
In the Puritan era, committing the sinful act of adultery is illegal and punishable by a variety of condemnations. When Hester Prynne commits adultery, she is forced to wear the scarlet letter on her bosom because she refuses to confess who her partner is. The presence of the scarlet letter changes the Puritan society’s view of Hester. The scarlet letter’s initial role as an allegory of sin is projected onto Hester as a whole. The young people are taught to “look at her, with the scarlet letter flaming on her breast,—at her, the ... ... middle of paper ... ...its evolution as a symbol through time.
Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter enables the reader to understand complex ideas more clearly. Beginning with the title of the book itself, Nathaniel Hawthorne weaves various symbols throughout the novel. The same symbol can mean different things to different people because symbols are subject to the interpretation of the reader. Nathaniel Hawthorne used symbolism to clarify the overall meaning of The Scarlet Letter. Works Cited Baym, Nina.
A few villagers saw the letter and Hester as a constant reminder of their own sin. Hester was the torturous representation of the lust that they kept hidden inside. The Scarlet letter was seen as a symbol of shame yet caused the villagers to see Hester as fortunate, boastful, and as a symbol of their own faults. Later in the novel, the "A" came to show a woman's ability. The villager's said now, "it meant "Able"; so strong was Hester Prynne with a woman's strength"(p.156).
Hawthorne first introduces two symbols, the rose bush and the prison, to the reader. According to Bloom, "the rosebush stands for the spontaneous and irrepressible life of nature and instinct, while the prison door stands for the harsh limitations that must be imposed on nature to maintain order in human societies" (13). Since the rose bush lies so close to the prison, one could interpret the co-existence as a sort of yin and yang. This also implies that where evil and corruption reside, purity and native morality will follow. Representing all things good-natured, the rose bush appears “to symbolize some sweet moral blossom .
As the novel commences, the Puritan officials had deem that Hester is to wear a scarlet "A" on her bosom for the rest of her natural life as a form of punishment for her sin. The Puritan community shuns her for the "A," meaning adultery. The other punishment that Hester received is Pearl. Pearl serves as the prominent symbol of the immoral love affair between Hester Pyrnne and the Reverend Dimmesdale. This realization dawns upon Hester when "her first impulse to clasp the infant closely to her bosom; not so much by an impulse of motherly affection, as that she might thereby conceal a certain token."
Light and darkness is used to show Dimmsdale’s guilt and his mental anguish. He walks to the scaffold, mocking a confession at night in the darkness. Then blazes an meteor in the sky as if God himself were looking down and saying to Dimmsdale, “Almost, but not quite.” The author gives several lengthy, difficult descriptions in the beginning of the novel to set the harsh, Puritan tone of the novel. He says, “The founder of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, with this rule, it may safely be assumed that the forefathers of Boston had built the first prison-house gone where in the vicinity of cornhill, almost as seasonable as they marked out the first burial-ground, on Isaac Johnson’s lot...” (pg. 75).
Hawthorne personifies Nature as sympathetic towards sins against the puritan way of life. Hester's sin causes Nature to accept Pearl. First it is necessary to examine how nature is identified with sin against the Puritan way of life. The first example of this is found in the first chapter regarding the rosebush at the prison door. This rosebush is located "on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold"(36) of the prison.
A Character Analysis of Pearl in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Word Count Includes Outline at the End of the Paper The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a book of much symbolism. One of the most complex and misunderstood symbols in the book is Pearl, the illegitimate daughter of Hester Prynne and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Throughout the novel Pearl develops into a dynamic symbol; one that is always changing. In the following essay, I will explore Hawthorne's symbolism of Pearl from birth, age three, and age seven. Also, I will attempt to disprove the notion that Pearl is branded with a metaphorical scarlet letter "A" representing amorality; instead she represents the immorality of her mother's adultery.