Scarlet Letter Transformation

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Own That Sin

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a very popular story. In the story, Hester Prynne is married to a man named Chillingworth but she cheats on him with a man named Dimmesdale. After the affair, Hester is doomed to wear a big letter “A” on her chest until she dies. The scarlet letter is more than just a punishment for Hester’s crime of adultery. It is a symbol that Hawthorne uses and changes throughout the story. Hawthorne creates a mirror image with Hester and her scarlet letter, such that they two transform with each other throughout the book. At the beginning of the story, the scarlet letter upon Hester’s chest held its intended meaning; adultery. This is when Hester first received the letter and was the adulteress of her town. This “A” is the puritan’s way of punishing someone who commits the crime of adultery. Although some people of the town felt that being forced to bear the shame of this on your chest for the rest of your life was not severe enough. Some of the puritan’s believed that “At the very least, they should have put the brand of hot iron on Hester Prynne’s forehead. Madam Hester would have winced at that, I warrant me. But she, -- the naughty baggage, -- little will she care what they put upon the bodice of her gown!” (36). However, the majority of the town felt that the letter would bring her enough shame to last her lifetime. Time would surely prove the town wrong. After Hester had been released from jail, her and her daughter Pearl went to go live in a little cottage outside of town. To avoid discrimination, Hester stayed inside the cottage as much as she could. The scarlet letter dropped the meaning of adultery and began to mean alone and alienated. Hester could feel the sting of being alone, but she was not going to let it bring her down. She realized that as lonely as she was, “... without a friend on earth who dared to show himself, she, however, incurred no risk of want.” (56). She became very attached...
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