The symbol of the letter “A” in The Scarlet Letter represents Nathaniel Hawthorne’s belief that one is not always defined by their sin. Throughout the novel, Hester faces the ignominy of the other townspeople, but she never loses her pride. Even though Hester suffers from the isolation of her punishment, she still keeps her confidence and survives her punishment with grace and pride. As the novel progresses, the letter and Hester change.
The Scarlet Letter is packed full of many algorithms, symbols, and motifs, which help the reader have a greater understanding and depth of The Scarlet Letter. Throughout the book, the characters have algorithmic names. For instance, Dimmesdale's name means dimming, or lack of insight. Whereas Chillingworth's name means chilling or inhumane. Finally, how Pearl can be related to the creation of an actual pearl. But mainly in The Scarlett Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses significant symbolism in the character’s names.
The centerpiece of the novel, Hester Prynne, is one who is not extraordinary, but is very important. Hester is a woman who committed a sin, but accepts this. She took time to weave this scarlet letter, and wears it with almost pride. She understands the issues lie in the sexist nature of the town fathers, and the town itself. Through the experiences she endures, she becomes very thoughtful, and maternal.
Nathaniel Hawthorne is known for his heavy use of symbolism in his writings, The Scarlet Letter is no exception. In the novel, Pearl could be presumed to symbolize only the idea of sin that her mother committed, but upon further investigation, past the erratic behavior, we see that she holds a sense of light within herself and lashes out only when antagonized by those who look down on her. Society held a role in perceiving Pearl as a ‘Devil-Child’ and implicated her in the role of being such a symbol as opposed to viewing her in the light that they see other children in. Pearl being a symbol of purity contrasts each other character who hold ungodly intentions or secrets within them making her appear as odd but develops her to be seen more as
Lonely and secluded from society, Pearl lives a childhood different from the other Puritan children. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, he portrays the effect that Hester’s sin of adultery had on her daughter Pearl. Since her infancy, Pearl lived in ignominy along with her mother. Her father, Dimmesdale, does not fess up to his paternity to Pearl or to his sin which makes him feel guilty and hopeless. Pearl had to live surrounded by people who were living in lies, torment, and fear.
While Hester’s sin is the initial cause of her alienation, Puritanical beliefs perpetuate the void between Hester and community. The puritans believed man was incapable of any goodness without God. Sinners were rejected by both church and state, as Puritan colonies were founded on strict moral principles hoping to serve as a perfectly holy template for surrounding areas. David Sorrels comments that “Puritans were preoccupied with punishment and death”. A jarring practice of the Puritan community was to make a public spectacle of sin as deterrent for others who may be tempted commit similar evils. Publicized sin led to everlasting shame; one was never able to regain full redemption (Sorrels). Hester’s sin separates her from society permanently. “In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it” (84). Even years after her offense, she is still unable to forge a connection with other townspeople. Every encounter with them refreshes her isolation. The letter is a constant reminder of her sin; some people are never able to see past the mark meant to shame her. Gossip from women in the town increase her separation from the town making it difficult for her to form relationships.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts on July 4, 1804 (Belasco). Hawthorne’s ancestry relates all the way back to the witch trials that took place in Salem during 1692 and 1693; his ancestor John Hathorne, was one of the three judges during the trials (Nathaniel Hawthorne). After Hawthorne graduated from Bowdoin College in 1825, he moved back to Salem and lived with his mother while he worked on his writing for the next twelve years (Belasco). During this time, he changed his last name, adding a “W” to it, to distance himself from those before him.
In the book, The Scarlet Letter, symbolism is found all over the place and is a big part of the story. Symbolism sets the mood and plays a major role in making the theme of the book. The symbols in the book also affect the characters actions and their attitudes. The Scarlet letter repeated the use of various symbols all over the book and impacted the book in various and major ways. The symbols that impact the story are the scarlet letter itself, the scaffold, and the rosebush in front of the prison.
Symbolism is used a great amount in the story The Scarlet Letter. “Both characters and actions are soaked in symbolism” (Wagenknecht 61). Both characters from the novel and even main settings and objects in the novel were symbolized by something in some sort of way. Examples of characters and objects from the book that used symbolism in some way were Hester, Dimmesdale, Chillingworth, the forest, Pearl and many more were in the story. Hester was one the most if not the most popular fictional, female character in American fiction. Hester Prynne, dark beautiful of form and featured, and unmistakably of genteel background, was the first great female character in American fiction” (Wagenknecht 64).
The Scarlet Letter takes place at the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the 17th century, this is where the Puritans settled after leaving the New World because they wanted to “purify” the Church of England. The Puritans were a sect of Protestant Christians influenced by Calvinism, the idealized that salvation is predestined. They believed that religious behavior was a result of salvation, so with the Puritan communities so invested in purity sins were punished harshly and removed. Hawthorne sets the scene of the first chapter with a dark and gloomy effect, the dark nature of the prison established in the “vicinity of Cornhill”, by early settlers. The prison describe as an “ugly edifice” and “black flower of civilized society” with weeds growing in front of the shadowy structure where groups of Puritans dressed in there normal boring clothes have gathered. A rose bush stands beside the weeds, it foreshadows that brightness may be found along the track, or it eases the darkening close.
The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a gothic satire of the puritan beliefs and value. Nathaniel Hawthorn of a puritan based background wrote various harsh satires such as Young Goodman Brown, and The Scarlet Letter, all based on his ancestral history. Furthermore, in his satires, they all shared a common point in structure and his use of symbolism to develop meaning for his works. With the use of symbolism, Hawthorne is efficiently able to introduce the conflict with the symbolism of the letter A and which ultimately allowed further development of the characters using the scarlet letter and the hand over his heart as a basis.
The novel, The Scarlet Letter, takes place in the seventeenth century Puritan society of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Being under Puritan rule means that each colonist had to obey by the rules set by the magistrates and were assigned a spiritual leader, which would watch over their spiritual health. Puritans society was entirely thoracic and bound by the mandates of the bible. Hester Prynne and Dimmesdale began an affair. When the pregnancy could no longer be hidden, Hester was forced to reveal the baby daddy. When she refused, she was forced to be humiliated because she had broken the sixth commandment. Moreover she was treated as an outcast, a joke. She was the topic of sermon, a laughing joke to the kids and an object of scorn to the
Set in a pious puritan town in seventeenth-century Boston, Scarlet letter is a dramatic novel of love, revenge, and forgiveness. As Puritans, the people of the town are very self-righteous. However, everything breaks, when a young woman called Hester Prynne gives birth to an illegitimate child. The people of the town pressure her to reveal the father’s name, but Hester is steadfast. When a physician under the name of Roger Chillingworth enters this community, Hester eventually recognizes him as her long-lost husband. Filled with hatred for the man who took his wife, Chillingworth begins to search for the culprit. With all her strength, Hester fiercely guards this secret. Arthur Dimmesdale, a minister begins to grow weak with the guilt of his sin. Finally, Dimmesdale with a heavy heart uncovers that he was the one who committed this offense. In the last moments of his life, Hester forgives him and he forgives her, and then he departs from the world.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was born in Salem, Massachusetts in the year 1804. His ancestors include John Hathorne, who was the only judge who was involved in the Salem witch trials that never did apologize for his actions. So, Hawthorne, added a "w" to make his ancestral name in order to hide this relation. He attempted many novels; However, The Scarlet Letter was, by far, the most successful. The Scarlet Letter is an engaging and decisive work defined by Hawthorne’s use of symbolism. He used the symbols often throughout the book to create different themes. One of the key themes is that the definition of good and evil are subject to the varying viewpoints of certain people or groups of people and this is clear through the use of multiple symbols and characters.