Three examples of Symbolism in "The Scarlet Letter"

Essay by SumnerHigh School, 10th gradeA+, January 2006

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Symbolism is the use of concrete symbols to display a deeper more detailed meaning. In "The Scarlet Letter", Nathaniel Hawthorne employs many symbols that demonstrate a deeper sense. The most obvious symbol is the scarlet "A" that Hester is required to wear as punishment for the adultery she was accused of. The use of sunshine to display goodness and purity illustrates a strong symbol throughout the novel. Pearl, the daughter of Hester and Dimmesdale, is the strongest and most mystifying symbol in the novel. In "The Scarlet Letter" Hawthorne uses these symbols to give the reader an observation and a view on the way that the Puritan society is affected by sin.

The title of the novel, "The Scarlet Letter", is symbolism along with the many symbols in the actual text. Hester is required to wear an embroidered letter "A" on her clothes as punishment for her sin.

Hester and the townspeople see this as a serious sentence. Hawthorne shows Hester's outlook of her punishment by writing "she turned her eyes downward at the scarlet letter, and even touched it with her finger, to assure herself that the infant and shame were real." The initial perception of the reader is that the "A" stands for adultery, the sin that Hester committed. This ruling was intended for the public to know of Hester's sin and treat her accordingly. Society condemns her for her act and they know little more of her. The "A" actually has a more abstract meaning. It could mean "American." At the time America was more religion based than it is today. The Puritan way of life affects Boston as well as many other regions of America. Americans were punished harshly for acting against the Christian religion. Another meaning for the letter "A" could...