Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter Essay

1117 Words Nov 7th, 2016 5 Pages
Hawthorne in the novel, The Scarlet Letter, establishes Hester’s scarlet letter as a significant symbol that evolves in various ways throughout the story. The letter bestowed upon Hester ostensibly serves as her ignominious punishment for committing the sin of adultery, but the views on it differed depending on the individuals. The diverse perspectives of the “A” on Hester’s bosom transforms considerably in the minds of Hester, the villagers, Pearl, and the author as the storyline unfolds.
In the beginning of the novel, as Hester undergoes her punishment on the scaffold, she realizes the symbolic meaning of the “A” for the first time. “Could it be true?... turned her eyes downward at the scarlet letter, and even touched it with her finger, to assure herself that the infant and the shame were real” (Hawthorne 57). In the early days of her ignominy, Hester perceived the scarlet symbol as the shame and disgrace that resulted from her sin. Without complain, she accepts the “A” as the dreadful consequence of her atrocious adultery and proudly displays it; however, her views shift from a negative interpretation to a positive one over time. “The scarlet letter was her passport… Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers… made her strong, but taught her much amiss” (196). This quotation presents Hester’s revised outlook on the scarlet letter after bearing it for seven long years. To her, the symbol became a mentor that shaped her into a capable, compassionate person.…

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