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.
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
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
Hester Prynne and John Proctor were very similar in certain aspects, but when you dig deeper into their lives you find that they differed greatly. They both lived in the Puritan settlement of Salem, Massachusetts. Many deeds that were committed, such as adultery, were viewed as a sin and offenders were punished. Also, during this time period the Salem Witch Trials condemned people for participating in witchcraft. This was the cause of Proctor’s suffering. The punishment was hanging. Hester and John both committed adultery. Hester was shamed and was ostracized. Proctor’s sin was not revealed until Act 3 of “The Crucible.” Hester and Proctor suffered from their punishments. Hester was shamed and left to fend and provide for herself and her daughter alone. Proctor suffered a much greater loss than Hester, as he lost friends and his
There are various examples of symbolism in The Scarlet Letter, but one of them wraps the whole story together: the meaning of the scarlet letter A. In this passage, Hester Prynne wears an embroidered letter A on her bosom as punishment. At first the A stood for “adulterer”, but the townspeople later gained respect for her and said “Such helpfulness was found in her-so much power to do and to sympathize-that many people refused to interpret the scarlet “A” by its original significance. They said it meant ‘Able’” (Hawthorne 107). To me the “A” symbolizes hard work, morality, and poise. Hester came a long way in the Puritan town.
Hester’s Scarlet “A” is used to show how imperfect the Puritans are. The narrator describes Hester’s scarlet letter when he says:
Within the novel The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathanial Hawthorne Reverend Dimmesdale drastically develops throughout the novel, from being a symbol of Puritan religion to displeasing the population of the Puritan expectations through his actions. His appearance as well as his privilege and prominence within the community alters radically. He begins the novel as the town reverend, and later, the shame of Hester accepting the entirety of the blame and the fact that he escaped with no punishment or shame from the town ultimately consumed him. Throughout the novel, it was revealed that he had a red mark on his chest in correlation to the “A” that was displayed on Hester’s chest. Dimmesdale is an ironic character in the sense
Nathaniel Hawthorne uses a multitude of imagery and symbolism to serve as metaphors for different themes in his novel The Scarlet Letter. The theme sin versus guilt, appears often throughout the novel. It is often accompanied by the symbol of the scarlet letter, serving as a constant reminder of the guilt each of the main characters carry, as a result of the sins they have committed.
“Was that Scarlet Letter, so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom.”(Hawthorne 51). Because Puritans were so against Hester’s sin, they made her wear an “A” on her chest that stands for adultery. The townspeople wanted everyone who sees her know what she did so that she would be humiliated by it for the rest of her life. Hester was basically rejected by the town, and was scorned by the people everyday. The “A” made people overlook who she really was. “She was self-ordained a Sister of Mercy… The letter was a symbol of her calling. Such helpfulness was found in her… that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able.”(Hawthorne 146). Even with all the mocking and ridicule that was put on her, she still had the strength to push through it and carry on with her life. She raised her daughter, Pearl, through it all; she provided for money for them. She even gave to the poor. People began to realize that there was more to Hester Prynne than just the letter. They started to see who she really was; and because of that wanted the “A” to stand for something better. They wanted it to stand for able because it showed her strength. All of the good that Hester did showed people that she is so much more than just a sinner. She achieved her redemption, and the town realized who she really
Imagine being judged for the choices you make. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and The Raisin In The Sun by Lorraine Hansberry the characters in these three novels search for independence under unfortunate circumstances. This results in difficult decision making situations that they are later judged for. However, Hester confronts her sin, the Younger family moves into a white neighborhood house and the Wall’s kids move away from their abusive parents.
Hawthorne uses symbolism throughout the Scarlet letter to display the sin and indecency people see Hester as. The detail represents ,the deep beauty Hester has inside although most people do not see her as a beutiful women. The deep red is a representation of adultery which shows her being an oncast from society. The symbol of the letter “A” is repetitive throughout the novel and grows with Hester and overcomes this with time as people start to see her as a person again and not just a adulterer.
IN chapter 23 dimmesdale dies and a symbol is revealed on his chest. What does this represent for Dimmesdale? What do you think the mark is?
We are all sinners. Although one may try hard not to sin, all humans eventually succumb at some time or another to sin. While people may not able to avoid the fate which awaits them, the power of free will allows people to decide how they will respond to sin. While some may respond with guilt and regret, others may react with a sense of redemption and a renewed sense of responsibility.
Most readers are entangle in the meaning of the letter A, only adulatory of Hester Prynne? No, it is not that simple. Firstly, the letter A is represent angel. Hester Prynne didn’t harbor a deep resentment for the punishment and abuses, instead of that she still treated nice and gentle to others. Secondly, it is able. Hester lived alone with her “only treasure”, Pearl, after she came out from the jail. Everybody feel disgusted and shamed for her at distance so that Hester Prynne did not have way to get work. In the case, she started doing needlework to get enough food and did housework by herself. She didn’t feel hopeless but lived positively and also gave happiness to little Pearl. However, when readers comprehend the letter A in the book usually give its meaning as adultery. And what is the reaction of Hester Prynne? Will she forgive herself? With expected, she won’t since the alive letter around her – litter Pearl, who is sometimes a angel and sometimes a evil, whose and also, she was uninhabited and capricious: She was a live scarlet letter. However, she could puncture a fallacy with one remark. These two, little Pearl and the letter A could be called as indispensable and necessary condition in The Scarlet Letter. They are two main threads
They all hold hands and as this is happening “Beheld there the appearance of an immense letter- the letter A - marked out the lines of dull red light…A great red letter in the sky-the letter A- which we interpret to stand for Angel” (194) (152). This proves that the letter “A” originally meaning adultery then changes to able and now means angel. This is shown in the chapter that discusses Hester and Dimmesdale 's death and burial. “On the field, sable, the letter A, gules.”(261). This shows that on their tombstone that they share there is a letter “A”. The reader can infer that this “A” could mean Angel for now finally they are both free of the sin and are now a Angel in heaven. Another reason why the reader can infer that the scarlet letter now means angel is because when Hester and Dimmesdale were first standing together one the scaffold trying to make Dimmesdale 's guilt go away the townspeople said the “A” in the sky meant angel. Then at the end when they are buried next to each other everyone knows Dimmesdale 's sin and they can both live guilt free as an angel which is why there is a letter “A” on the tombstone. In conclusion the Scarlet Letter that Hester Prynne wears on her chest had three different meanings throughout the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Adultery, Able and in