The Importance Of Symbolism In The Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Letter is a novel filled with intriguing intricacies and convoluted symbolism. In the beginning of the book, Hester Prynne confesses to the sin of adultery, and is forced to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her chest as a mark of shame. Hester’s scarlet letter, although at first treated by others with contempt and anger at Hester, causes Hester to become a better and more philanthropic over time, effectively increasing her reputation in society. By the end of the book, after the death of Hester, the scarlet “A” becomes a sacred legend, and the Puritans treat it with honor. The meaning of Hester’s scarlet letter is significantly altered throughout the novel; the letter is used to symbolize and identify the themes of sin and shame, strength, …show more content…
After the passing of Hester, the scarlet A grows into a legend. In commemoration of Hester, Dimmesdale, and the scarlet letter, the community decides to keep the important settings in place: “[The Scarlet A’s] spell, however, was still potent, and kept the scaffold...where the poor minister had died, and likewise the cottage by the sea-shore, where Hester Prynne had dwelt” (226). Despite Hester and Dimmesdale’s wrongdoings, the townspeople demonstrate courtesy and respect for them by keeping the scaffold and Hester’s cottage as sacred objects in remembrance. The scarlet letter’s “spell”, which has apparently remained powerful, affects the townspeople by causing them to be graceful and courteous while remembering Hester and Dimmesdale. Also, the narrator describes that the scarlet A was looked back on with awe and courtesy, without any shame: “The scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the world’s scorn and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe, and yet with reverence, too” (227). The fact that the scarlet letter was no longer treated as a stigma, but rather with reverence demonstrates the drastic symbolic and interpretive changes of the scarlet A over time. The colossal change in treatment of the scarlet letter further signifies the themes of grace and respect. Hawthorne utilizes the community’s treatment of important locations and exegesis of the scarlet letter after Hester’s death to identify the themes of courtesy and reverence at the novel’s

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