A paper about the letter "A" and its ambiguous meaning throughout the book The Scarlet Letter.

Essay by wutang1High School, 12th gradeB+, March 2009

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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a very powerful novel filled with lots of ambiguity and action. In the novel there is a vast amount of symbolism and ambiguity, the letter "A" is used time and time again. Hester Prynne is a beautiful, young, Puritan woman, who has committed a very sinful crime; adultery. The normal punishment for such a thing in the Puritan community is death. Hester is a young and beautiful woman and the townsmen decide to punish her by making her wear the letter "A" sewn on her chest. The letter "A" indicates to the pubic that she committed the crime of adultery. [Hawthorne,12]In the beginning of the novel the scarlet "A" stands for adulteress. [Hawthorne, ] She lives on the outskirts of the town in the woods by herself where she is mocked and made fun of by majority of the townspeople. The only job she has is to take care of her daughter Pearl and to sew clothes for the townspeople.

People seemed to think that she was showing off her "A" every time she went in public.

The next meaning of the letter "A" is American. Hester's "A" reflects an "American" meaning in various ways. For one, America is a melting pot of many peoples and ideas, as was Hester's "A".[Cooper] She earned that "A" undercertain situations. Hester was in a loveless marriage. She had beenseparated from her husband for 2 years. Similar to the development of America Hester had many conditions that developed her "A". [Cooper] Hester's "A" was developed as a result of her conditions of a public shunning.

Another way of looking at the letter "A" was that it means able. Hester Prynne was a very able woman, she was a very strong Puritan. She was able to accept her punishment along with being able to take all the name-calling and mockery the townspeople yelled. Hester was an able mother, and she was able to raise a daughter. [Cooper]One more meaning of the letter was that it meant accepting. Hester accepted her punishment and overcame it on her own. She accepted herself and learned to accept who she was. Hester learned that she would have to accept her place in society and proceed with her life. [Cooper]The Scarlet Letter had many ambiguous meanings for the letter "A". It was used many times to convey Nathaniel Hawthorne's point of view on events and how people act and react in certain situations. Hester Prynne was a strong woman who believed in her actions and dealt with her consequences.

BibliographyBecker, JohnEugene Goodheart, New York:Kennikat Press, 1971, 155-180.

Cooper, Michael. "The Scarlet Letter and Symbolism." EzineArticles 03 October 2005. 23 October 2006 .

Hawthorne, NathanielThe Scarlet Letter. New YorkThe New American Library, 1999.AllUnger, LeonardAmerican Writers, New YorkCharles Scribner's Son, 1974,225.

W.C,Brownell.American Prose Masters.

LondonHarvard University, 1967,80.