A In Claudia Durst Johnson's The Scarlet Letter

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The Meanings of the Letter One simple letter can have multiple distinct meanings. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the letter “A” has many representations. Hester Prynne, one of the main characters, has to wear the letter “A” on her chest because she committed adultery. Hester is a married woman whose husband went missing. She had relations with another man which resulted in her daughter Pearl. In the book it is clear that “A” stands for several words. Adultery, angel and able ; but when analyzed one could see that it has distinct implications for different characters. Claudia Durst Johnson’s article The Meaning of the Scarlet A analyzes the many variations of this one letter. Johnson’s article depicts how Pearl, Dimmesdale and Chillingworth all have varying interpretations of the scarlet letter. Pearl plays an important role in the significance of the scarlet letter. Pearl is said to be the living embodiment of the letter. So much as it is even said that “Hester dressed the child in scarlet” (J 129). Hester has several consequences resulting from her sin, Pearl…show more content…
The context that Chillingworth gives to the scarlet letter is unlike any other character. Chillingworth is Hester’s long, lost husband in disguise. He is said to be the “devil’s emissary”. In the article, Johnson claims that “Pearl, who sees through everyone, is the first to associate him with satan” (J 135). The “A” again can stand for artist. However, for Chillingworth, it represents dark art. Dark art meaning black magic and/or devil worship. All of Chillingworth’s characteristics add up to his overall appearance. His cold intellect, old age and haunting figure make him seem even more demon-like. Chillingworth’s physical appearance even has an evil vibe. He is said to be uneven and to have a strange lump. Considering this, Johnson says that his “deformity of body finally represents a deformity of character” (J 136). All around, Chillingworth is a living representation of
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