A Summary of the Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter

Essay by klute May 2004

download word file, 21 pages 5.0

[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 puritan treatment continues, because as Hester walks through the streets, she will...