Webster defined "symbol" with these words: "Something concrete that represents or suggests another thing that cannot in itself be pictured." This concept has been particularly applied to literature and used by writers throughout history. Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter uses multitudes of symbols in such a manner. One of the most prominent, and most complicated, of such symbols is the scarlet letter "A". The scarlet letter "A" is a symbol of a daughter's connection to her mother, isolation, and the devil and its associations.
The scarlet letter represents Pearl's emotional attachment to Hester. For instance, Pearl is as deeply affectionate to the letter as she is to her mother. In chapter ten, Pearl takes "a handful of [burrs], [and she arranged] them along the lines of the scarlet letter." In this instance, Pearl is showing her fondness for her mother by decorating her letter - as if the letter itself were a medium between the two. Additionally, Pearl views the letter and her mother as equals. During chapter fourteen, Hester decides to remove her letter while in the forest. Thus, Pearl is reluctant to approach her. Hester, realizing what is wrong, says, "Pearl misses that which she has always seen me wear." After she returns the letter her bosom, "Pearl kissed [Hester's] brow and both cheeks ... but ... Pearl put up her mouth, and kissed the scarlet letter too. (Hawthorne)" Because of the fact that Pearl equates the letter to her mother, the letter is as deep a symbol of motherly connection as Hester is herself.
In addition to emotional attachment, the scarlet letter represents isolation. Whoever wears the letter will be feared by so...
... middle of paper ...
...references to the devil and Hell make it clear that the letter is indeed infernal.
The scarlet letter "A", the most intricate symbol in the novel, is extremely diverse as its meanings strongly contrast. Often times, these meanings of the symbol are directly stated, but they are frequently indirect as well. The symbol's meaning can also be expressed through a variety of methods such as character dialogue, narrative, or allusions through imagery. Despite the differences between maternal love, estrangement, and avernal entities, the letter is still able to encompass these concepts into its symbolism.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Langenscheidt's Pocket Merriam-Webster Dictionary. New York: Langenscheidt
Publishers, Inc, 1999. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 1997.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- ... It 's clear through this description that Puritans are horrid and most mean. The Puritans then whip the townsfolk and dress the new couple in modest clothing to show their Puritan values. To the most basic reader it is obvious that the Puritans come from a place of hate and wrongfulness but upon closer look one can see that this is untrue. Although the Puritans may be harsh and rigid in their ways Hawthorne 's words suggest that their ideals are the best way to get a job done. Before arriving in Merry-Mount Hawthorne gives the reader insight into the Puritans daily lives, he writes “there were men in the new world, of a sterner faith than these May-Pole worshippers...most dismal wretches... [tags: Puritan, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]
2103 words (6 pages)
- The Scaffold Scenes in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter In Nathaniel Hawthorne?s The Scarlet Letter, the Puritans constantly look down upon sinners like Hester Prynne, both literally and symbolically. The use of the three scaffold scenes throughout the course of the novel proved to be an effective method in proving this theory and showing how Puritan society differs from that of today?s. In the first scaffold scene, Hester is being led from the prison where she has spent the last few months, towards the scaffold clutching her newborn baby to her bosom, covering the scarlet letter-the two symbols representing truth and her lost innocence.... [tags: Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne Essays]
879 words (2.5 pages)
- The Effective Use of Symblism in The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne The novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne is an intriguing account of a Puritan community that experiences a breakdown in beliefs. The story deals with a woman, Hester, who commits adultery with a Calvinistic minister resulting in the birth of a child (Martin 110). As compensation for her crime of passion and her refusal to name her lover, Hester is sentenced to wear an embroidered scarlet letter on her bosom.... [tags: Papers]
1152 words (3.3 pages)
Dual Personas Revealed in The Epilogue of "The Tempest" and The Custom House of "The Scarlet Letter"
- It’s 6:30 a.m. and the alarm clock begins to ring. I get up and get ready for school. I arrive at school and see that everyone is happy and talkative. I feel normal, not really willing to talk or even smile. I feel very different from others. I hardly talk and I just don’t feel like myself at school. Once the bell rings to go home, I burst out the doors and out to be myself again. I’m two completely different people. At school, I’m just a regular serious kid. When I get home, that’s where the party begins and when I am able to become myself again.... [tags: The Tempest, Scarlet Letter]
850 words (2.4 pages)
- Elements of Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter 200 Words of Teacher’s Praise and Comments Nathaniel Hawthorne uses several literary devices to give his novel The Scarlet Letter depth. One of these devices is symbolism. Hawthorne utilizes symbolism to convey certain points or themes to the reader by using ordinary objects. Three of the elements he uses as symbols are the settings of the Puritan town and the forest and weather. The first of the two main settings is the Puritan town that includes the prison and the scaffold.... [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]
1078 words (3.1 pages)
- The Scarlet Letter, written in the 1800's by Anti-Transcendentalist Nathaniel Hawthorne, tells the story of Hester Prynne. Young Hester lived in New England, about the same time witch trials were still conducted, and she is found guilty of carrying a baby whose father she refuses to confess. The punishment for this crime is from then until the rest of her life, Hester had to bear a stitched 'A'; on her breast. This 'A'; carries the namesake of the book, The Scarlet Letter. Although thought to be an embarrassment and form of torture for Hester, this scarlet letter seems to become a sense of pride for Prynne.... [tags: essays research papers]
579 words (1.7 pages)
- ... Especially in our society today the punishment most definitely was not fair. It violated her rights as an individual and forced other’s views upon her. This demonstrates the destructive effect shame can have on human lives. A real life example of shame being used incorrectly and excessively is shown in David Perry’s article, Jeb’s Medieval Politics of Shame: Upholding a Long Tradition of Keeping Women and Girls in Line, 13-year-old Izabel Laxamana was a victim of shame. After Izabel’s father found out she had sent a picture to a boy, he shaved off Izabel’s hair and videotaped her shame.... [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Shame]
1184 words (3.4 pages)
- The Scarlet Letter Critical Analysis Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts, the direct descendant of John Hawthorne, and a judge at the infamous Salemwitchcraft trials. The guilt that Hawthorne felt over the actions of his ancestor had an enormous impact on his writings. In his introduction of "The Scarlet Letter", Hawthorne accepts the guilt from his forefathers and offers to repent for their crimes (Waggoner, 5). This unusual way of viewing guilt and sin is one driving factor in Hawthorne's writing.... [tags: Papers]
1239 words (3.5 pages)
- Pranav Damera Mr. Mackechnie English Period 6 9 May 2015 “A” in the Scarlet Letter According to Webster Dictionary, adultery is sex between a married person and someone who is not that person 's wife or husband. Even though this is still considered immoral nowadays, it is not dealt with as harshly by countries today as the Puritans. The scarlet letter “A” in the Scarlet Letter has many different meanings throughout the book. The “A” serves as a symbol throughout and helps show the suffering and strength of Hester Prynne as a character.... [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]
1618 words (4.6 pages)
- ... "..the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes" gives an inevitable and discouraging vibe (Hawthorne, 1). It later describes, “...the wooden jail was marked with weather-stains and other indication of age, which gave a yet darker aspect to its beetle browed and gloomy front" (Hawthorne 1). Such specific and detailed description connotes a tone of morbidity and despair similar to the puritan society Hawthorne sets the novel in. The ominous atmosphere is spread throughout the vegetation nearby as well.... [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]
1268 words (3.6 pages)