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In The Scarlet Letter hope is symbolized through characters such as the kind woman. After Hester leaves her jail cell in the first few chapters of the book after spending months in it through pregnancy, she is forced to stand in front of the town holding her illegitimate newborn baby. She is surrounded by people who criticize her. There is one woman however, who does not give into all the gossip. This kind woman as she has come to be called, defends Hester on two occasions. The first time, women of the community were passing judgment on Hester for the crime she committed. Instead of joining in their conversation the young woman said to the others, "...let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart." (49) Later on in the same scene the kind woman shows her compassion a second time, stating, "Oh, peace, neighbors, peace!" whispered their youngest companion; "do not let her hear you! Not a stitch in that embroidered letter, but she has felt it in her heart." (51) Once again she is the only person to defend Hester. She becomes symbolic of hope that Hester can someday return to a normal life where people accept her as part of the community and where they do not judge her, a place where she is no longer isolated from the outside world. In a sense the kind woman is Hester Prynne's hope.
The second symbol of hope throughout the sin and darkness of the novel is the wild rose bush that grew outside the doors of the prison.
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Through these acts of hope, Hester is able to be strong throughout her years of isolation and humility. Though they were hard years indeed, Hester learned a lot about herself and how other people are. Through the symbols such as the character of Pearl, the kind woman, and the rose bush, Hawthorne shows that Hester is able to be hopeful, even in a world filled with so much darkness. In the end Hester gains respect from others. She is hopeful for many years and finally is accepted by the people of the community: "Many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman's strength." (148) With her hope for the future, she is able to pull out on top of all evil thrown her way, doing it all with the strength of a woman.