What Does the Letter A Symbolize? (Scarlett Letter, Nathanial Hawthorne)

Essay by sliCrewHigh School, 11th gradeA+, March 2003

download word file, 3 pages 3.0

This virtually flawless essay indicates the profound, abstract symbolism of the letter "A" other than Adultery. There are 3 different points that I argue, along with verbatim excerpts from the story supporting my interpretations. Excellent intro and outro!

What does the Letter A Symbolize?

In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the letter A serves as obviously a direct reference to the adulterous act that forms the overlay for the story. However, further analysis reveals many more meanings represented by that most infamous of letters, meanings which provide multi-layered insight into this classic parable of Puritan morality. The letter is a metaphor for Hester Prynne's daughter Pearl - the living manifestation of her mother's sin. The letter also can be seen as a representation of Hester's redeeming steadfastness which comes to designate her as "Able". A third interpretation of the letter can be found by viewing it as a symbol of the collective hypocrisy towards sin, existing in society as a whole.

These particular translations of the meaning of the scarlet letter as a symbol reflect the main themes of the book and represent its statement which is still relevant today.

Pearl is by far, the most unique character in the story. Her persona reflects vastly on her living embodiment of her mother's sin. Often described as mean and anti-social, mainly to the community, can be interpreted as that Pearls reason for existence is strictly to make known the shameful secret of her birth, and to cause her mother much pain and strife. Hawthorne bluntly describes her as a "witch," or the devils child. Hester also refuses to reveal the "true" meaning of the Embroidered letter that she wears. This is symbolic because until she knows what the letter means, she is unable to decode who she really is. Her role...