The Scarlet Letter

Essay by pickboy1High School, 12th gradeA+, April 2004

download word file, 4 pages 5.0

The Scarlet Letter

Many great works of literature are filled with material symbols that are meant to represent other deeper more meaningful things, none more so than the letter "A" in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter". In this book, Hawthorne provides us with an intricate plot that takes the scarlet letter through a rollercoaster of ups and downs, spanning the spectrum of positive and negative connotation throughout the course of the novel. While the sense of the meaning "adulteress" is constant, The metaphoric, emotional and moralistic meanings are ever changing. While not distinctly nor directly stating these changes, the author expertly employs the turmoil of the situation to illustrate that in the ever changing scope of life, honesty is the best way to overcome adversity.

At the outset of the novel, the scarlet letter is meant to symbolize of course, crime and punishment. The Puritan community was a dark, strict society, feeling indifferent to the humanity of the woman standing before them on the scaffold, with her infant daughter against her chest.

The beautifully embroidered letter does not glow in the eyes of the people. The letter shapes the way they look at Hester and the way they treat her. They isolate Hester not only socially but also through her location, which ultimately causes her own emotional isolation. "It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity and inclosing her in a sphere by herself." (39) Hester receives her punishment and is placed on display for the harsh eye of the Puritan community. And much of the community, this public display of humiliation not being enough, wished even more recompense upon her, as testifies the words of the towns-wives: "What think ye gossips? If the hussy stood up for judgement before...