Analysis Of The Book ' The Scarlet Letter '

2029 Words May 30th, 2016 9 Pages
The Evolution of the A in The Scarlet Letter
“So, in the course of the novel, the ‘A’ seems to encompass the entire range of human beingness, from the earthly and passionate ‘adulteress’ to the pure and spiritual ‘angel,’ taking into account everything in between,” begins Claudia Durst Johnson (128). Many believe the A in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter possesses only one meaning - adulterer; however, Hawthorne imbues the symbolic letter with diverse definitions. In the novel, Hawthorne plainly details three significant changes in the connotation of the A. At first sight, it represents the sin of adultery and ostracizes Hester from society. After the outcast builds a reputation of charity and labor, the A transforms into ‘able’ and highlights the favorable qualities of Hester. Finally, the A appears in the night sky after the death of Governor Winthrop and becomes ‘angel’ to signify his passing. Though the surface text shows a change in the implication of the A, the letter primarily revolves around Hester. Some critics believe other characters develop the interpretation of the A as they come under its influence. In many accounts of semiotic criticism, experts may support this claim unknowingly or actively pursue proof of the characters’ abilities to don their own A’s - either literal or metaphorical - and support the meaning of the classic work. The prime example, Hester Prynne, models the ornate A of ‘adultery’ and ‘able’. In contrast, Arthur Dimmesdale conceals…
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