John Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter Essay

John Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter Essay

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“A”
A symbol relies on imagery to capture influential ideas. Symbols have the ability to captivate a population, negatively or positively, reflecting a community’s ideals and attitude towards the representation. When the scarlet letter is first laid upon Hester’s bosom, it has an extremely negative connotation within her community, which is intended to represent her sin. As the plot progresses, the circumstances and the community in which the novel takes place evolves and the societal attitudes change. With the community’s development, the meaning of the embroidered letter changes to reflect society’s different expectations and values. This evolution demonstrates how the power of the symbol is largely dependent on people’s perception of the token and what they believe its meaning is. The transformation of the Puritan community’s viewpoint during the story reveals the flaws and fragility of Puritanism. Given the religion’s foundation stemming from their disapproval of change in their church in Europe, this is particularly ironic. Hawthorne uses the tri-stage meaning of the scarlet letter as a means to demonstrate the evolutionary process and meaning a symbol can possess. While the Puritan society allows their view of the scarlet letter to change, Hester refuses to accept the change, demonstrating more Puritanical characteristics than her Puritan community.
Adulterer. Hester’s sole identity within the town is tied to scarlet letter sewn neatly into her gown, representing her sin against both g-d and society. Puritanism has the reputation of being harsh and rigid, with no differentiation between the common law and the g-dly law. The lack of distinction between the violations of the two drastically different laws provides very lit...


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... staying true to her ideals, she becomes more of a model Puritan, than her neighboring Puritans. Hawthorne brings light to this concept throughout the book, hinting at Hester’s purity. He uses a powerful metaphor to describe how he feels about the Puritan society. He says, “a pure hand needs no glove to cover it” (138)! This is indicating that he feels that the Puritan people are not actually pure at all; they simply cover themselves with a thin coating of purity on the outside. They don’t allow for individuality, which in itself creates impurity, by not allowing people to think for themselves and express their true personality. Hawthorne uses the power contained in a symbol to demonstrate the vulnerability of Puritan society. His criticism is centered on the lack of individuality and genuine purity that Puritans claim is the foundation of their society and religion.

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