The Scarlet Letter

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Jessica Thompson
Heller
Honors English 10
3 January 13
Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter
“He that falls into sin is a man; that grieves at it, is a saint; that boasteth of it, is a devil” (Thomas Fuller). In modern times, society doesn’t sentence a man to jail time for committing the crime of adultery. We have grown to accept adultery more in our society today than people did in the 17th century. Back then, committing the sin of adultery was as bad as murder, and an adulterer could be sentenced to death. Luckily for Hester Prynn in The Scarlet Letter, she is not sentenced to death for committing adultery. She is forced to wear a scarlet letter A on her bosom to show and remind everyone in her village of the crime she committed. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the scarlet letter A, the comet, and Dimmsdales mark as a reoccurring symbol of sin in the novel.

The scarlet letter A on Hester’s bosom is one symbol of sin that appears throughout the novel. The letter grows with Hester over time, and becomes a part of her. It gives her the ability to let her view puritan society from another angle, it shows the connection of the main theme of the novel, and it makes Hester a better person and role model for the town. “The scarlet letter [is] her passport into regions where other women [dare] not tread” (137). Hester’s letter lets her into places in puritan society where women are normally not allowed. This lets Hester speculate about her society and herself more boldly than anyone else in New England. Viewing society this way changes Hester for the better good, and helps her grow spiritually. Hester begins to learn and analyze more about sin and humanness in her society, which is one of the main themes of The Scarlet Letter. “Mother,” [says] Pearl, “the sunshine does not love you. It runs away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something on your bosom… It will not flee from me, for I wear nothing on my bosom yet! “Nor ever will, my child, I...
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