Symbolism of the Scarlet Letter AIn 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 is viewed as a symbol of Hesters strength and ability (Hawthorne Julian). By the end of the novel, the letter A has undergone a complete metamorphosis 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 . . . (Nathaniel Hawthorne).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, (Nathaniel Hawthorne). She is a very strong woman to be able to holdup 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 (Nathaniel Hawthorne).
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...
Cited: athaniel Hawthorne. The Scarlet Letter. New York: First signet Classic Printing, 1999.
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Hawthorne,Julian.The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
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