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.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne, a Puritan woman, commits adultery with Reverend Dimmesdale. As a form of punishment, the judge forces Hester to wear a scarlet letter to signify her wrongdoing. The purpose of the scarlet letter is to correct Hester’s conduct. With the symbol of the scarlet letter, Hester’s Puritan community publicly judges and ridicules her. Today, judges sometimes still use public shaming as a form of punishment. For example, judges may order the offender to hold a sign describing the offense. Since the offender stands out in public, the community mocks and judges the offender. Judges should not use public shaming as a form of punishment towards an offender.
Hawthorne uses many forms of rhetoric to portray his characters, but relies heavily on pathos in the instance of Hester Prynne. She’s a member of an inherently misogynistic society, and because she’s a woman, her every act is scrutinized. As punishment for her act of adultery, Hester is ordered to adorn her chest with a permanent scarlet letter. Although the audience is well aware of the atrocity of the sin she’s committed, Hawthorne’s writing sparks a feeling of empathy within the reader. Throughout the novel, the reader is exposed to several clear uses of pathos. The scene detailing Hester and Pearl’s time in the Governor's house is just one of Hawthorne’s many appeals to emotion. After entering the home, Pearl notices a polished suit of armor, and calls Hester over to see it.
Hester is accused of adultery, and is forced by the city magistrates to wear a scarlet letter A on her chest for the rest of her life. She is forced to wear the mark, living with the “pang of it … always in her heart.” (78) Although she initially tries to degrade the negative connotation of the scarlet letter by decorating it and covering it up, she grows to accept “the scarlet letter flaming on her breast” (118), and the letter only increases her strength. The letter, although not a physical punishment, affects her more on a social and emotional level, isolating her from society and drawing ridicule from townsfolk. Her isolation leads her to connect with only a limited few, including Mistress Hibbins, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth. More important than its meaning is the letter’s connection to the mark of the Black Man. The letter is a symbol of Hester’s sin, a mark telling society to stay away because of the awful evil she has committed. However, this letter A is also the mark of the Black Man. According to the “old dame[,] … [the] scarlet letter was the Black Man’s mark,” (277-278) , a symbol of one’s allegiance to the powers of evil. Hawthorne purposefully instills this connection, and forces the reader to more closely at the parallel. When questioned by Pearl, Hester sheds light on her letter, saying that she did “Once in [her] life I [meet] the Black Man” (278), and that the “scarlet letter is [in fact] his mark!” (278) Hester only internally realizes the connection between the Black Man and Chillingworth, but her claim leads the reader to understand the true relationship between the two connotations of her scarlet
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a novel that focuses on sin in the Puritan society. Hawthorne revolves the theme around the four main characters Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth., and Pearl. Hester Prynne is forced to wear the scarlet letter ‘A’ after committing adultery against her husband Roger Chillingworth, with the minister Arthur Dimmesdale. As a result an odd child is born. Dimmesdale never admits that he is a father of the child, and is forced to suffer alone in guilt, while Roger Chillingworth seeks revenge. Hawthorne is known for his incorporation of symbolism into his writing. One of the most complex and misunderstood symbols is Pearl. She is a unique character. Often known as the product of her
Society had now begun to think that Hester had served her punishment. Although Hester was not accepted society before, she began to see the positive aspects of the community and was able continue on with her own life which eventually led to her being recognition of good character. Eventually recognizing her sin she had become a symbol of the Puritan faith, and eventually found her place in the community in a positive way. In The Scarlet Letter, the whole period of time the letter "A" was embroidered on her clothing it only represented one ideology, which was adultery. However, as time continues forward the community begins to finally start accepting her again, through her positive actions and influences, the letter "A" starts to represent a more positive ideology. Through these actions, "Such helpfulness was found in her-so much power to do and power to sympathized -that many people refused to interpret the scarlet "A" by its original signification. They said that it meant "Able": so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman 's strength" (Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne, a famous American author from the antebellum period, notices the emphasis on individual freedoms in the works by Ralph Waldo Emerson and other Transcendentalists during his residency in the Brook Farm’s community. In response to these ideas, Hawthorne writes The Scarlet Letter, a historical novel about Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale’s lives as they go through ignominy, penance, and deprecation from their Puritan community to express their strong love for each other. Their love, even though it is true, is not considered as holy nor pure because of Hester past marriage to Roger Chillingworth, and thus Hester gained the Scarlet Letter for being an adulterer. Hawthorne utilizes biblical allusions, such as the stories of
Literary devices are often used to capture a reader’s attention in a text. Nathaniel Hawthorne used many different types of literary devices in his book The Scarlet Letter. He uses symbolism to give hidden meaning to elements in the story, conflict to make the story interesting, and allusion to make references to historical events (ex. biblical references). While reading The Scarlet Letter, the literary devices did not jump out at me, but now as I reflect upon them they help me understand the book well. Literary devices can make a passage have a whole different meaning.
Within Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, antagonist Hester Prynne is subjected to the opinions and treatment of 17th century’s Massachusetts Bay Colony as a result of her sinful act of adultery. In the Puritan colony, it was important to be faithful, both to thine spouse, and most importantly, to God. Hester’s adultery issued her public ridicule and shunning, and a physical reminder to be forever worn; an embroidered ‘A’ placed upon her bosom. The symbol served to alert all of her faithless act, “It had the affect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity and enclosing her in a sphere by herself” (page 74). Throughout the novel, Hester’s treatment is obvious, and she makes many efforts to not let her choice, and her illegitimate child Pearl, define her. She vows to never reveal the name of Pearl’s father, however it is later revealed that he is the ever-so-respected town Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester is more than aware of her exclusion from the groups of the colony, even though she was working to rebuild her name by working and keeping busy, “In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it. Every gesture, every word, and even the silence of those with whom she came in contact, implied, and often expressed, that she was banished, and as much alone as if she had inhabited another sphere, or communicated with the common nature by other organs than the rest of human kind” (page 108). The judgmental community that Hester is a part of, ceases to affect her actions. She refuses to leave, and raises her daughter the best that she can- with love, respect, without revealing to Pearl what makes her different. The society sees Hester as corrupt, but does not call Pearl the same. Pearl’s name even represents purity, something she definitely was not born of. However, Pearl is able to grow up as normal as possible, though not a lot is said about her life and she does act a bit
In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne is seen as a disgrace for the town. The “A” on Hester’s chest forces her to feel like she has no independence, since she is not seen like a typical person; she does not feel like she
Hester undergoes major character growth through her years bearing the scarlet “A,” "so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom," introduced in the narrator’s shifting viewpoint of the young mother.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne is an extreme outcast in her society following her public ignominy and being sinfully branded as the adulterer. Succeeding Hester’s removal of the “A” from her chest, she initially believes that “the burden of shame and anguish departed from her spirit” (182). Hester feels as though the removal of the “A” has removed the stigma pertaining to the “A”, as well as the constraints and disregard society has cast upon her. But whether or not Hester contains a physical marker of her ignominy, she will be abandoned within society. After seven years of being accustomed to Hester’s sin, townspeople still believe Hester was “dead, in respect to any claim of sympathy” (203). Hester remains a victim
During the early 1600’s, Puritan groups migrated from Europe to the Massachusetts Bay Colony to establish a settlement based around very strict religious beliefs. The Scarlet Letter is set in this time period and settlement where it was considered a horrendous sin to commit adultery. Hester Prynne engaged in sexual relations with the minister, Dimmesdale, which resulted in a child named Pearl. This novel highlights Hester’s struggle to raise her child and protect herself from the societal attacks thrown at her, while overcoming the label bestowed upon her by society. In, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses specific diction, repetition, and denotative diction in order to convey the purpose of overcoming labels and protecting one’s image.
Hester, thus, was not only able to change herself, but also the image in which society viewed her by working hard to benefit the public. Likewise, the scarlet letter which was supposed to represent sin was instead “fantastically embroidered with gold thread, upon her bosom.” Even though the Puritans may have designated the letter as a representation of sin, Hester’s renewed sense of pride does not want society to define the A for her. Rather Hester wants to define it herself and by doing so she develops responsibility and power over her own actions. Because Hester has the power to change who she is, she also has the power to change what the Scarlet Letter represents. By letting the letter be “embroidered with gold thread” readers are able to see how for Hester sin is not something to be fearful of; furthermore, it allows one to see how Hester has developed into an independent individual who accepts who she is and the situation she is presented with. Hester’s lover unfortunately
Adultery, Able, Angel. The Scarlet Letter is about a woman who can take a symbol that means one thing and changes it to mean the complete opposite. In this novel a woman named Hester Prynne had committed a sin of adultery and is forced to wear the letter “A” on her chest in remembrance of her sin. The story takes place in the mid 17th century in a Puritan town of Boston. The rest of the story is based upon trying to find out who the father of Hester 's baby is. The meaning of the scarlet letter and the way people view Hester changes throughout the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The scarlet letter was originally suppose to represent adultery and was there to show everyone the sin Hester Prynne had committed. Hester had to