Symbolism in the Scarlet Letter

Topics: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne Pages: 2 (713 words) Published: September 14, 2009
Symbolism can be defined as using objects, characters, figures, or colors to represent abstract ideas or concepts. The Scarlet Letter is a story that describes the life of an adulterer, Hester Prynne. She had sexual relations with Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, while married, that resulted in the birth of her daughter, Pearl. However, she doesn’t let it get to her and shows great bravery by living on through her hard time. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses symbolism throughout the entire story to express the results of her and her fellow adulterer’s sin in a way that the readers could relate too.

One of many symbols in The Scarlet Letter is obviously, the scarlet letter “A”. The letter “A” stands for adulterer and is appropriately worn by Hester, who is an adulterer. It is a symbol of her sin. Since she has to wear it on her clothes everyday she is constantly reminded of her sin as people, even the needy of whom she helps, mock her as she goes by. As the story progresses it becomes evident that the letter is not only a symbol of her sin but is a symbol of her identity. Hester can be identified as the adulterer who has to wear the letter “A”.

A second symbol in The Scarlet Letter is Pearl, Hester’s daughter. Pearl, in a way, is the living version of the letter “A”. Just as the letter “A”, Pearl is a symbol of Hester’s sin that everyone can see. Not only is Pearl a symbol of her mother’s sin, she is oppositely a symbol of a blessing to Hester. Because of Pearl, Hester has a reason to continue living. Also, Pearl is a symbol of an unsolved mystery because before Dimmesdale confesses, Hester’s fellow sinner is unknown.

A third symbol in The Scarlet Letter is the meteor that spells out a letter “A” in the sky while Dimmesdale stands on the scaffold right before he is about to confess that he is Hester’s fellow sinner. It is a symbol to him that he too should wear an “A” to show everyone that he is just as guilty of...
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