The Symbolic Meaning of the Scarlet Letter.. discusses themes & symbols in the Scarlet Letter

Essay by USMCgirl02High School, 11th gradeA, May 2002

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, The Scarlet Letter, the symbols play very important factors that are used throughout the story. Hawthorne uses three scaffold scenes that are at the beginning, middle, and the end of the story. He also uses the concept of nature such as the brook, rose, and forest but the most significant symbol that is shown throughout the novel is the scarlet letter A. The letter represents different things to each of the characters and the townspeople.

In the beginning of the story, Hester is publicly humiliated at the first scaffold scene because of her sin. She is forced to wear a scarlet A on her clothes. At this point in time, the letter A symbolizes adultery. Although Hester has sinned, she still holds her head up high even though she has to endure some of the townspeople's name calling. The crimson scarlet letter is the only thing that stands out on Hester's clothes.

Everyone knows that she has committed adultery. Hawthorne chooses the color of Hester's clothes and the scarlet A very wisely. The dark and gloomy colors of Hester's clothes show the grief and the guilt that she goes through. The color of the scarlet letter is very important because the crimson color signifies the devil. Since Hawthorne selects the novel's setting during the time of Puritans, the color shows the mark of the devil. The scarlet letter also has a significant role not only on Hester but on Dimmesdale as well.

Dimmesdale has sinned with Hester. Although Hester has to endure public humiliation, Dimmesdale has to live his life knowing that he has not admitted being with Hester. Dimmesdale goes through his pain physically. No one knows that he has sinned with Hester and that he is Pearl's father.