Theme Of Ambiguity In The Scarlet Letter

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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter features numerous elements of ambiguity, meaning there is not one single or clear meaning. Constant confusion is placed into the readers mind to keep the novel interesting. Most characters presented in the novel can embody both “good” and “evil” qualities, and the characters and symbols are left open to more than one interpretation. Hawthorne’s continual use of ambiguity keeps the reader alert and gives an air of mystery that allows the readers to reach their own conclusions on certain aspects as to what Hawthorne only vaguely hints at throughout The Scarlet Letter or has left for the reader to decide.
In The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne shows strength and the ability to overcome great trial and turmoil in her life, yet the guilt and shame sometimes overwhelms her. She is forced to wear the scarlet letter “A” at all times as a reminder of her crime. Hester’s view of her scarlet letter varies throughout the book from a shameful curse to a familiar companion. Despite all of this, Hester still chooses to stay. She later speculates on human nature and social organization, pondering whether existence is worth accepting at all. She decides the negative and Hawthorne writes, “At times, a fearful doubt strove to possess her soul, whether it were not better to send Pearl at once to heaven, and go herself to such futurity as Eternal Justice should provide” (201). While she doesn’t sucumb in death as her lover does, Hester still holds these
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