What Does The Butterfly Symbolize In The Scarlet Letter

Superior Essays
The butterfly is a perfect way to describe a transition for something. This insect starts life as a caterpillar, then twists itself into a cocoon. During the time the caterpillar lies dormant, insulated off from the rest of the world, there is a period of great transformation and change. Finally, after this time of self-imposed hiding and transition, the caterpillar awakens and transforms into this beautiful butterfly. A change is a like a restart at something, it can change you for the better, just like it did for Hester Prynne. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne shows us the past can define people, but it’s time that can change us into pleasant things. Hester will show us in the beginning of the novel how she was symbolized as the …show more content…
Everywhere she went she brought embarrassment and guilt with her. Hester knew what she had done was abominable, but she didn’t love her husband. She didn’t reveal the name of the father because she loved him and wanted to protect him, so she received the punishment instead of him. She was forced to wear the letter A which stood for adultery, Hester’s punishment was to wear this letter on her bosom for the rest of her life. Hester hated it, as Hawthorne described, “Throughout them all, giving up her individuality, she would become the general symbol at which the preacher and moralist might point, and in which they might vivify and embody their images of woman’s frailty and sinful passion” (Hawthorne 59). Hester felt trapped like the butterfly in the cocoon, she knows that she will be this figure that represents the devil by showing everyone what happens when you sin against god. They will see Hester not for her beauty and looks but they will look at her with disgust and hatred. In the beginning of the story when Hester was walking through the market she heard the townspeople talking about her, she heard the gossip about who they think the father of Pearl is. Many people wanted her dead because she broke a law and sinned, one woman in the market-place yelled, “This women brought shame upon us all, and ought to die. Is there not a law for it? Truly, there is, both in the scripture …show more content…
Towards the end of the novel, we start to see Hester becoming her own person, she has moved on from her past and is ready to look towards the rest of her future. The moment when she becomes a lady is like the moment a butterfly is coming out of its cocoon into this new body. She takes off the scarlet letter from her dress and lets down her hair that she hid behind her bonnet. As Hawthorne described, “She took off the formal cap that confined her hair;and down it fell upon her shoulders, dark and rich, with at once a shadow and a light of abundance, and imparting the charm of softness to her features,”(156). She was starting to look like the Hester we knew before she sinned; she was beautiful and women would be jealous of her looks. Because of what Hester did, she tried to repay back her sin, by helping out the homeless and making clothing for them, she thought it was time to take the A off from her bosom. She wanted to move on and forget about what she had done, she paid her time and wanted to look towards her

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