A Summary of the Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter

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A Summary of the Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter

Don Grant

[Abstract]: The Scarlet Letter makes the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne

known all around the world. Hawthorne uses the symbolism so skillful that

it enhances the artistic effects of his work greatly. This paper researches

the symbolism in this novel from the following aspects: the changing symbolic

meaning of the scarlet letter, the names of the major characters and many

objects that are described in the novel to make the symbolism clear to

the readers.

[Keywords]: The Scarlet

Letter, symbolism


Nathaniel Hawthorne is considered to be the first greatest American

fiction writer in the moralistic tradition. His work The Scarlet Letter

that is notable for its allegory and symbolism is regarded as the first

symbolic novel in American literature. The novel revolves around one major

symbol: the scarlet letter. Besides, some other objects that are described

in the novel have their symbolic meanings.

Moreover, the names of the four

major characters': Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth

and Pearl also have their symbolic meanings. The Scarlet Letter is a novel

of much symbolic.

1. Different meanings of the scarlet letter "A":

1.1 The Changes of the Symbolic Meaning of the Scarlet Letter "A".

In this novel, the scarlet letter "A" changes its meaning many different

times. This change is significant. It shows growth in the characters, and

the community in which they live. The letter "A" begins as a symbol of

sin. It then becomes a symbol of alone and alienation, and finally it becomes

a symbol of able, angel and admirable.

1.1.1 Adultery

The letter "A", worn on Hester's bosom, is a symbol of her adultery

against Roger Chillingworth. This is the puritan way of treating her as

a criminal, for the crime of adultery. The...