Symbols Show Hope in "The Scarlet Letter"

Topics: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne Pages: 2 (920 words) Published: May 22, 2006
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the Puritan community banned all forms of sin. Sin was looked upon as evil, being connected to the devil and his dark ways. Hester Prynne, the main character of the story, was shunned by the rest of the Puritan world after committing the sin of adultery. She lived in a world where it was not accepted. She was isolated from the world around her, having little hope. Throughout the novel, symbols such as the character of the kind woman, the wild rose bush outside of the prison doors and the character of Pearl, Hester Prynne's illegitimate child, are used to show that even in a world full of sin and darkness, there is always hope. In The Scarlet Letter hope is symbolized through characters such as the kind woman. After Hester leaves her jail cell in the first few chapters of the book after spending months in it through pregnancy, she is forced to stand in front of the town holding her illegitimate newborn baby. She is surrounded by people who criticize her. There is one woman however, who does not give into all the gossip. This kind woman as she has come to be called, defends Hester on two occasions. The first time, women of the community were passing judgment on Hester for the crime she committed. Instead of joining in their conversation the young woman said to the others, "...let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart." (49) Later on in the same scene the kind woman shows her compassion a second time, stating, "Oh, peace, neighbors, peace!" whispered their youngest companion; "do not let her hear you! Not a stitch in that embroidered letter, but she has felt it in her heart." (51) Once again she is the only person to defend Hester. She becomes symbolic of hope that Hester can someday return to a normal life where people accept her as part of the community and where they do not judge her, a place where she is no longer isolated from the outside world. In a sense the kind...
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