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.
Symbols in The Scarlet Letter Symbolism plays an important role in many novels. Held with the distinction of implying important themes, symbols add depth to a story. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, in the 1640’s. Embellished with symbols and hidden themes, the novel tells "a tale of human frailty and sorrow" (Hawthorne 46). In addition to human flaw and sadness, the novel reveals inhumane punishment and torture from the government and citizens of Puritan society.
Some of the obvious static symbols include the Reverend Mr. Wilson, who represents the Church and Governor Bellingham, who represents the State. However many of Hawthorne's symbols change — especially his characters — depending on the way the community treats and their reactions to their sins. His characters and the scarlet A all serve highly symbolic purposes. Through the public eye, Hester is a sinner who demonstrates the effect of punishment on sensitivity and human nature. She is seen as a fallen woman, a culprit who deserves the sordidness of her immoral deed.
The letter A then appears in many different forms throughout the novel. The gold-embroidered A on Hester Prynne's fascinates Pearl Prynne. It is magnified in the armor breast plate at Governor Bellingham's mansion which is so extreme that it seems to hide and cover Hester. On the night of Arthur Dimmesdale vigil, he sees a red A in the sky. And finally, the letter is revealed on Dimmsdale's chest in front of the whole village.
“In the contrast of the wild rose bush, with its flowers turned into gems, and the prison, turned metaphorically into an unnatural flower - the black flower of civilization -Hawthorne sets his conflict between prisoner and prison (or prisoner and crowd) into a much larger context. The rose bush is beautiful, also wild and natural; the black flower is ugly, also civilized and unnatural. Nature has a heart to pity and be kind; civilization, apparently, does not.” (Baym 6) This rosebush was a symbol of... ... middle of paper ... ...ath of the governor. So one topic of gossip and conversation, Hester’s and Dimmesdale’s adultery, has evolved into another more recent one, the governor’s death. Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter enables the reader to understand complex ideas more clearly.
Clothing: A Form of Rebellion “Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used by the author to represent abstract ideas or concepts.” Symbolism in literature is the depth and hidden meaning in any piece of work. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a powerful and evocative novel laced with symbolism. The most obvious is the symbol of the scarlet letter itself, representing Hester’s sin of adultery. Hawthorne’s other symbols are less obvious and are very often obscured in the novel. Clothing is an important but often forgotten symbol in The Scarlet Letter.
I believe that Chillingworth being revengeful on Dimmsdale is a major conflict in this novel. Hester Prynne, one of the characters in The Scarlet Letter, I believe is the most dynamic character in the novel. In the beginning of the novel Hester is portrayed as a young beau... ... middle of paper ... ...tter is meant to be a symbol of shame, but its symbolism changes throughout the story. The Scarlet Letter becomes a powerful symbol of Hester’s identity and eventually comes to stand for adultery or “Able”. Therefore the Scarlet Letter is a very important symbol in this novel.
The Scarlet A is a confusing, as well as less appealing, title that would have sold much less. The title is better off being general, and then allowing the book to be more specific. What is more memorable? “The Scarlet Letter” or “The Scarlet A: Adultery in the 1600’s?” The Scarlet Letter was titled the way it was for a reason. It symbolizes and appeals to every major theme in the book, while making it obvious on first glance what the book centralizes on.
Some of Dimmesdale’s torments are the cause of Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s former husband. Through Chillingworth, Hawthorne reveals the evilness of revenge. He also represents the punishment for Hester and Dimmesdale’s sin, and is a physical manifestation of their torment. At the same time, Chillingworth is both revenge and punishment. And in addit... ... middle of paper ... ... Chillingworth is the representation of the punishment that falls on all sinners.
As Hawthorne puts it, "to symbolize some sweet moral blossom, that may be found along the track, or relieve the darkening close of a tale of human frailty and sorrow" (McMichael, 1033). The prison is symbolic of moral evil which would be sin and the cemetery is a symbol of natural evil which would be death. It is commonly agreed that the colors are used extensivly in The Scarlet Letter as symbols. This is illustrated by the scene by the prison door, but the use and importance of the symbol grows as the book moves along. Pearl, is often identified with the color red, which Waggoner identifies as evil.