Symbolism In The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

1688 Words 7 Pages
Symbolism in literature is used to convey ideas, themes or certain qualities to the reader, by using symbols that are different from their literal meaning. Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of The Scarlet Letter uses several key symbols throughout the novel to both structure and give symbolic meaning to the book. In particular, Hawthorne uses the sunshine as a symbol of happiness and freedom, the scaffold as the structure to the novel, and the letter A, the biggest symbol in the book, to represent adultery and ability. Throughout the book Hawthorne shows that all of these symbols are connected through sin and redemption, a huge theme of the novel.
The sunshine in The Scarlet Letter means and shows many different things. It can mean happiness and freedom, although it isn't always present everyone. Hester seems to be absent and present in the sun while Pearl sees it as pure happiness and something to play in. In chapter 7 Hester says “No my little Pearl! Thou must gather thine own sunshine. I have none to give thee!” (Hawthorne 83) Pearl thinks of the sun as happiness and joy and Hester won’t give her any. Hester
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The A means a variety of different things including adultery and able. Hester has a child in sin and is forced to wear a letter A on her chest for the rest of her life. She makes this A big and gold on scarlet fabric, which goes to show that she isn't ashamed of it in the slightest, that is until she stands up on the scaffold and is shamed publically.
Pearl and the scarlet A itself; both are intimately connected to Hester's adultery. In her initial shame, Hester tries to conceal the A by holding Pearl close to her chest. The narrator remarks, "In a moment, however, wisely judging that one token of her shame would but poorly serve to hide another, she took the baby on her arm." (Qtd in Bloom's How to Write about Nathaniel

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