Set in seventeenth-century Boston, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is abotu consquences of hidden and open sin. Hester Prynne commits adultery against her husband with Arthur Dimmesdale, a young clergyman. As part of her punishment, Hester is required to wear a red "A" everyday. Hawthorne uses symbolism throughout the novel to depict the Puritan views, the views of the adulterers, and the contrasting views of the people in the community. He exhibits these viewa through symbolism in the letter "A", objects, the three scaffold scenes, the forest scene, and the characters.
Hawthorne uses symbolism through the letter "A." According to one expert, the main character in The Scarlet Letter is the letter itself (Baym 86). It has many repetitions and double menaings within itself (Byam 89). This scarlet "A" is inscribe in one form or another on Hester, Dimmesdale, and Pearl (Baym 84). However, the only true letter is the letter that hester wears on her breast (Baym 86).
The "A" is Hester's armor of pride, but is also her emblem of suffering (Martin 114). Baym also states that knowing what the letter means is what the novel is all about (86).
The red "A" clearly stands for adultery. Puritan society sees the "A" as a symbol of guilt, Hester's infraction of their moral code (HArt 95). Hester is given the punishment of wearing the letter instead of being put to death because she is young and comes from a prominent family. However, the pain and heartache that the "A" brings to her is far worse than being excuted. Children learn to detest Hester because shee wears the symbol of the moral outcast (Abel 171). The "A" is a sing of the community's ownership of Hester, and her "struggle to change the meaning of the letter is a struggle...