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Scarlet Letter Symbolism

Presentation of the symbolism of the Scarlet Letter in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.

Noah Conner

on 7 February 2013

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Transcript of Scarlet Letter Symbolism

The Scarlet Letter An analysis of Symbolism Noah Conner
John Radtke
Enisa Selimagic
Ana Belza Purpose Chapter 19 -"The Child at the Brook-Side," Page 163 (In the forest after Hester returns the letter to her chest.)
"In a mood of tenderness that was not usual with her, she...kissed her brow and both her cheeks.
But then - Pearl put up her mouth, and kissed the scarlet letter too!" Chapter 13 -"Another View of Hester," page 124 "The letter was the symbol of her calling....Such helpfulness was found in her...that many people
refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification...it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman's strength." Chapter 8 -"The Elf-Child and the Minister," Page 85 "She is my happiness!-she is my torture, none the less! Pearl keeps me here in life! Pearl punishes me, too! See ye not, she is the scarlet letter..." Chapter 6 -"Pearl," Page 72 "...surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold-thread, appeared the letter A..."

"She hath good skill at her needle...but did ever a woman...contrive such a way of showing it!" INTRODUCTORY - "The Custom House," Page 23 "But the object that most drew my attention...was...of fine red cloth, much worn and faded. It was the capital letter A...My eyes fastened themselves upon the old scarlet letter, and would not be turned aside..." Chapter 2 -"The Marketplace," Page 40 "But that first object by which Pearl seemed to become aware was...the scarlet letter on Hester's bosom!...putting up her little hand, she grasped at it, smiling not doubtfully, but with a decided gleam..." PURPOSE:
-Hester is linked to Hawthorne -Both alienated from society
-Secure with his own identity PURPOSE:
-Takes charge of punishment
-Though seen as "Adulterer" and should be
full of shame -> she is not
-Identified as "A" by people -Shows Hester's strength and
almost rebellious nature
-Shame, but handles with
control and posture on the scaffold.
-Fancy embroidery = accepting of
punishment PURPOSE:
-It's enough to have the "A" as the
physical reminder, but Pearl's presence reminds her of her sin even more -Pearl = Hester's Torture/New "A"
-Reminder of sin
-Can't escape her shame of the A in
her own home PURPOSE: Hester sees Pearl as the scarlet letter (positive) and that both the letter and Pearl, as painful as both symbols are, are parts of her identity that better her. Pearl = living evidence of the scarlet letter
= Hester's consolation
=punishment that she needs PURPOSE:
-Letter considered as "Able" = better status than "Adulterer"
-Still seen as both, but can't escape the names -Known for being strong enough to handle her offense
-"Adulterer" -> "Able," but not fully accepted yet. PURPOSE:
-Pearl has more joy with Hester's "A"
on her, than seeing her without it
-Seen it since birth & knows it is not
her mother without it -Can't fully be free from symbol because Pearl
is the scarlet letter
-Pearl doesn't accept her mother without it
and doesn't see the same Hester
-Shows that "A" is part of Hester's identity 3rd Hour Chapter 24 -"Conclusion," Page 202 PURPOSE:
-Chaos subsided and Hester
became known for more than
the letter
-Chose to keep the letter
(total acceptance)
-Letter became a legend (after Hester returns to Boston)
"She had returned... of her own free will... (she) resumed the symbol of which we have related so dark a tale. Never afterwards did it quit her bosom...the scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma..." The Burning of Sin Innocent Product of Sin Finding Strength in Sin Freedom from Sin Any Questions? -People came to understood the value
of the A
-Hester kept the A after
Dimmesdale's death
-She used her story to help others Hester Pearl Dimmesdale Rejected writer
Fired Rejected for adultery
Ostracized Hawthorne's connections with Hester: Explanation: Scarlet Letter Coloring Book Chapter 23 -"The Revelation," Page 197 PURPOSE:
-Chillingworth tried to exploit
the Reverend's sin
-Sin was seen as insignificant
-He was free from oppression
of his sin, resulting in his
peaceful, final rest (Chillingworth)
"It was on him!... The angels were forever pointing at it! The Devil knew it well, and fretted it continually with the touch of his burning finger! But he did it cunningly from men, and walking among you with the mien of a spirit, mournful because so pure in a sinful world!" -'A' assumed to be imprinted on
Dimmesdale's chest
-Chillingworth tries to show the town
the mark
-Towns people don't see the mark Explanation: Conclusion Scarlet Letter changed through novel
Began as a symbol of shame and
Acknowledgment of sins changed letter
Hiding sins leads to physical and mental
Accepting sins and adapting to them leads
to positive results
Letter ended as a symbol for ability, not
adultery Acknowledgment of sins betters the individual
Hiding sins causes degradation of the individual
Product of wrongdoing can change:
If not hidden, product can be positive
If hidden, product can be negative Explanation: Explanation: Explanation: Explanation: Explanation:
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