The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a novel that takes place in a
Puritan community during the middle of the seventeenth century. The story is about a
woman named Hester Prynne who has an affair with a man by the name of Reverend
Arthur Dimmesdale. This occurred after her husband inexplicably failed to join her in
Boston after their emigration to American from Europe. Hester soon gives birth to a child, and is from then on condemned by her fellow townspeople. This condemnation
consists of the town forcing her to wear an "A" upon her bosom. Throughout the book
the letter A takes various shapes and forms for different people.
The first person for whom the letter "A" takes shape for is Hester Prynne. For
Hester the "A" can represent adulteress, ashamed, artist, able, armor, and alienation. An adulteress is someone who commits adultery, voluntary sexual intercourse between
a married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse.
Hester commits adultery
when she engages in sexual intercourse with Reverend Dimmesdale, a man who is not
her husband. Her deed is found out when Hester becomes pregnant, a task not
possible by her husband since he had been missing for some odd number of years.
The term adulteress is placed down on her as a punishment for going against the puritan ways and having
intercourse with a man other than her husband. The "A" is supposed to be used as a form
of punishment but Hester does not see it that way. The town places the A upon her bosom
because it "is meant to be a symbol of shame, but instead it becomes a more powerful
symbol of identity to Hester. The letter's meaning shifts as time passes (Sparknotes, 7)."
They wanted her to...