Metamorphosis of the Letter A in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

Metamorphosis of the Letter A in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

Length: 796 words (2.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓


The Metamorphosis of “A” in The Scarlet Letter     

 

Six Works Cited     In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the meaning of the letter "A" changes throughout the novel.  This change is significant as it indicates the personal growth of the characters as well as the enlightenment of the townspeople. When the novel begins, the letter "A" is a symbol of sin. As the story progresses the “A” slowly transforms to a symbol of Hester’s strength and ability.  By the end of the novel, the letter “A” has undergone a complete metamorphisis and represents the respect that Hester has for herself.

The letter "A," worn on Hester's bodice, is a symbol of her adultery against Roger Chillingworth. This letter is meant to be worn in shame, and to make Hester feel unwanted. "Here, she said to herself, had been the scene of her guilt, and here should be the scene of her earthly punishment . . ." Hester is ashamed of her sin, but she chooses not to show it. She committed this sin in the heat of passion, and fully admits it because, though she is ashamed, she also received her greatest treasure, Pearl, out of it. She is a very strong woman to be able to hold up so well, against what she must face. Many would have fled Boston, and sought a place where no one knew of her great sin. Hester chose to stay though, which showed a lot of strength and integrity. Any woman with enough nerve to hold up against a town which despised her very existence, and to stay in a place where her daughter is referred to as a "devil child”  is a very tough woman.

The second meaning that the letter "A" took was "able." The townspeople who once condemned her now believed her scarlet "A" to stand for her ability to create beautiful needlework and for her unselfish assistance to the poor and sick. "The letter was the symbol of her calling. Such helpfulness was found in her- so much power to do and power to sympathize- that many people refused to interpret the scarlet 'A' by its original signification." At this point, many the townspeople realized what a godly character Hester possessed. "Do you see that woman with the embroidered badge? It is our Hester- the town's own Hester- who is so kind to the poor, so helpful to the sick, so comforting to the afflicted!" The townspeople soon began to believe that the badge served to ward off evil, and Hester grew to be quite loved amongst the people of the town.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Metamorphosis of the Letter A in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter." 123HelpMe.com. 23 Feb 2020
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=3100>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Analysis Of Nathaniel Hawthorne 's ' The Scarlet Letter ' Essay

- Hawthorne’s Development of Dimmesdale “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” Kahlil Gibran illustrates characterization that portrays suffering, thus enhancing one’s integrity and depth of character. The development of characters relies heavily on direct and indirect presentation. Direct presentation reveals a character through the author’s narrative, while indirect presentation occurs when the character develops from actions and dialogue....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Research Papers
1093 words (3.1 pages)

Dimmesdale’s Metamorphosis in The Scarlet Letter Essay

- Dimmesdale’s Metamorphosis Life is unpredictable, and through trial and error humanity learns how to respond to conflicts and learns how to benefit from mistakes. Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a character who changes and gains knowledge from the trials he faces, but first he has to go through physical, spiritual, and emotional agony. In the midst of all the havoc, the young theologian is contaminated with evil but fortunately his character develops from fragile to powerful, and the transformation Dimmesdale undergoes contributes to the plot’s climax....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter]

Research Papers
825 words (2.4 pages)

Hester's Deconstruction of Puritan Ideals in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

- The Scarlet Letter - Hester's  Deconstruction of Puritan Ideals     Hester, the protagonist in Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter, effectively challenges the efforts of the Puritan theocracy to define her, and at the same time, contain the threat she poses to the social order.   Throughout the novel Hester bears the mark of an "A" embroidered on her chest which was originally intended to label her as a social outcast, more specifically an adulteress to the rest of society. She wears the "A" for many years after she bears her "illegitimate" child with virtually no objection....   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Research Papers
755 words (2.2 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- Throughout the infamous novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the reader is met with a lot of symbolism, from the rosebush to the scaffold and of course the most obvious symbol of them all, the scarlet letter “A”. While the most evident meaning or symbolism behind the scarlet letter “A” is that it stands for adultery, the scarlet letter can actually represent a lot more depending on the context it is placed in. Throughout the novel, the scarlet letter “A” morphs in meaning. The letter goes from standing for adultery, to strength, growth, ableness, power and much more....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Research Papers
752 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

- 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]

Research Papers
1618 words (4.6 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- In the novel the Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the main character Hester Prynne sinned by committing adultery which changes her identity while she wears the Scarlet Letter. “In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity” (Erik Erikson). The way the scarlet letter defines Hester as someone who sinned in her society. The way that her society reacted to her with the scarlet letter, made her question her identity of who she is with the scarlet letter....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Research Papers
1343 words (3.8 pages)

The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, like many romantic novels, opens the reader 's mind to many different views on the ideal life. The key details of the novel 's plot and character diversity are strategically used to show many different aspects to life. Two aspects that are repeatedly shown in the novel are the contrasts between nature and society. Hawthorne highlights several romantic ideas to emphasize the effect of nature’s purity and freedom on people in contrast with the corruption of community....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Research Papers
1268 words (3.6 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- When the fate of the scarlet letter encompasses the beholder, it transforms their souls into the symbolic image of Yin VS. Yang. A common Chinese symbol that displays good vs. evil. As the essence of good (Yang) exists through charitable acts, and those who live life with an open heart. Whereas, the power, and the darker side of the light (Yin) comes through as being hidden from society, and relating symbols in life to the underworld. Two opposite sides of the spectrum clashing against one another to coincide....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Research Papers
1437 words (4.1 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- The Scarlet Letter “The Scarlet Letter”, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, records a struggled life about two adultery lovers. This story was marked by the most successful work back in 1850s and also become to a big part of Hawthorne’s writing career. Through the eyes of his main character Hester Prynne, the readers seem to see a woman’s helpless under a brutal and traditional society, which was ruled by Puritan people. After his book had been published one after another, no one can deny Hawthorne’s irreplaceable talent and unremitting effort....   [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter]

Research Papers
1006 words (2.9 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- The Scarlet Letter “The Scarlet Letter”, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, records a struggled life about two adultery lovers. This story was marked by the most successful work back in 1850s and also become to a big part of Hawthorne’s writing career. Through the eyes of his main character Hester Prynne, the readers seem to see a woman’s helpless under a brutal and traditional society, which was ruled by Puritan people. After his book had been published one after another, no one can deny Hawthorne’s irreplaceable talent and unremitting effort....   [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter]

Research Papers
1008 words (2.9 pages)

Related Searches

Hester overcame the shame of her sin through the purity and goodness of her soul. Unselfishly offering her time and love to those who needed her the most proved that she was not worthy of the fate which had been dealt to her.

The final face of the letter "A" was a symbol of Hester's respect for herself, and for her life. It just changed to a way of life for Hester. After returning to England for years, and helping Pearl to gain a better life, Hester returned to don the badge which she now felt was a part of her. She could have lived a better life without it, begin a new life in England, but it was easier for her to return to America. The Puritan settlement was her home. It was where the most important events in her life had occurred, and she felt best being there. "But there was a more real life for Hester Prynne here in New England than in the unknown region where Pearl had found a home. Here had been her sin; here, her sorrow; and here was yet to be her penitence." Hester was in no way legally or religiously bound to wear the badge. She did though. She had found her home in New England, and that is where she intended to stay. The three changes in the scarlet letter were significant, and they showed her sin, her ability, and her life. Hester was a strong, admirable woman who went through more emotional torture than most people go through in a lifetime.

Works Cited and Consulted

Chase, Richard (1996). “The Ambiguity of the Scarlet Letter.” Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne (pp. 145-152). San Diego: Greenhaven.

Fiedler, Leslie A. Love And Death In The American Novel. Normal: Dalkey, 1998.

Hawthorne, J. (1886, April). “The Scarlet Letter.” The Atlantic Monthly [On-line], pp. 1-20. Available: http://wwww.theatlantic.com/unbound/classrev/scarlet.html

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: St. Martins, 1991.

Loring, G. B. (1850). “The Scarlet Letter and Transcendentalism.” Massachusetts Quarterly Review [On-line], pp. 1-6. Available: http://eldred.ne.mediaone.net/nh/loring.html

Scharnhorst, Gary. The Critical Response to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. New York: Greenwood, 1992.

Author unknown. “Hawthorne, Nathaniel.” Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 99 [On-line], pp. 1-4.

 

 
Return to 123HelpMe.com