Symbols in The Scarlett Letter Essay

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Symbols in The Scarlet Letter Symbolism is strongly prevalent throughout Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Some of the most important symbols in this novel are Pearl, the scaffold, and the scarlet A. These symbols are all entwined together because each object relates to the punishment and sin of Hester Prynne. Pearl is the consequence of an adulterous relationship and will constantly be a reminder of that sin, not only to Hester but also to the town as a whole. The scaffold is a hoary platform on which Hester had to stand to receive her punishment; however, each time the scaffold is shown, it provides for a different symbol. The scarlet letter is one last form of punishment that Hester must wear upon her chest so the whole town …show more content…
This means that an object must relate to the symbol and have a literary connection. In The Scarlet Letter Hester Prynne had sex out of wedlock and as a result became pregnant. Pearl holds many symbolic meanings in this novel and serves as a symbol herself. Hester decided to name her daughter Pearl because she was her only cherished possession. Hawthorne says, “But she named the infant “Pearl,” as being of great price, –purchased with all she had, –her mother’s only treasure” (80). According to Perrine, “…authors may choose names for their characters that serve not only to label them but also to suggest something about them” (173). Pearl also symbolizes sin. Each time Hester, or anyone, looks at Pearl she will be reminded of her wrongdoing. Hawthorne states, “She had been offered to the world, these seven years past, as the living hieroglyphic, in which was revealed the secret they so darkly sought to hide, – all written in this symbol…” (180). Pearl is known to hold more of a symbolic meaning of sin than that of the scarlet letter. In one aspect, this can be perceived as a punishment; however, it could also be perceived as something good coming from an immoral situation. Hawthorne wrote, “She knew that her deed had been evil; she could have no faith, therefore, that its result would be for good” (80). Even though Pearl was created out of a sin, she is her mother’s only hope of a better future. The scaffold also holds many important symbolic

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