Symbolism in the scarlet letter

Essay by howard_drakeHigh School, 11th gradeA+, January 2004

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Symbolism In The Scarlet Letter

Picture this, you just finish a book and you think to your self, what did it mean? Well, if you are lucky they book symbolized something. Without symbols, writing is just an organized mass of meaningless words. Symbolism in writing is the deepness and hidden meaning in a piece of work. The novel "The Scarlet Letter" written by Nathaniel Hawthorne has many symbols entwined into it, making it very captivating story. Symbolism is a necessity in writing and the Scarlet Letter is a prime example of symbolism at it best.

Much of Hawthorne's symbolism is difficult to find. Some symbols are obvious. At the beginning of the book, Hawthorne describes the prison as " the black flower of civilized society". The prison represents the crime and punishment existing during early puritan life. He also contrasts the prison with the tombstone at the end of the novel showing that crime and punishment could bring about the end of civilization.

The overgrown plants and weeds around the prison are shown to symbolize how corrupt civilization really is. There are positive symbols too, the wild rose bush. This represents the blossoming of good out of the darkness of the corrupt abyss that is society.

The most important symbol throughout the whole book is of course the Scarlet Letter "A" worn by Hester Prynne. The "A" initially symbolizes the crime of Adultery but through her good acts and charity the "A" comes to symbolize so much more. Take for instance, Able. The "A" appears in other places then on Hester's chest. It shows itself in the night sky to reverend Dimmesdale who is standing on the scaffold. While Pearl is playing, she lays some grass in the shape of an A on her own chest. However,