Generally speaking, a symbol is something used to stand for something else.
Some of the symbols in The Scarlet Letter can be hard to keep track of, insomuch that symbols in the novel change as the novel progresses, being always open to interpretation. The following emphasize important aspects of the novel.
The Scarlet Letter — Initially affixed as a punishment for adultery, the scarlet letter means different things as the novel progresses.
At first it means adultery. Then it means able. Its meaning then becomes indefinite. It is eventually looked on as a symbol of strength. The townspeople regard it as an object of scorn. Hester regards it as a constant reminder of her sin. Outsiders see it as a novelty, and some Native Americans presume it's a distinguishing mark for someone of status.
The Mark on Dimmesdale's Chest — Dimmesdale's mark is an outward manifestation of inward corruption and hypocrisy.
The Scarlet Letter's first chapter ends with an admonition to "relieve the darkening close of a tale of human frailty and sorrow" with "some sweet moral blossom." These opposites are found throughout the novel and often set the tone and define which side of good and evil envelop the characters. A summary of Themes in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of The Scarlet Letter and what it means. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. Understanding the Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 2/19/ Some symbolism in The Scarlet Letter is obvious- .
Like his sin it remains secret from the public but is known to him and to Chillingworth, who symbolizes the devil. Pearl — More than a character, Pearl is a living symbol of Hester's sin, a constant reminder of her infidelity.
She pesters not only Hester, but Dimmesdale, whom she recognizes as being guilty of the same crime as her mother. The Rosebush at the Prison Door — The reader is greeted immediately with the symbol of a rosebush in an otherwise dreary setting.
The narrator provides several possible interpretations of the anomalous rosebush, yet, as with other symbols in the book, assigns no singular meaning to it. Possible interpretations include the triumph of nature over man made contrivances, a foreshadowing of Hester's blossoming under harsh Puritan rule, or the triumph of the individual against society, a common theme in American Romanticism.
Roger Chillingworth — Hester's husband is the lone symbol in the novel that can be interpreted narrowly. His sole purpose in life becomes revenge.
The Meteor — As Dimmesdale stands on the scaffold in chapter 12, a meteor flashes an 'A' across the sky. Dimmesdale feels it symbolizes that he should wear the 'A' on his chest. The townspeople believe it means angel in honor of Governor Winthrop who had died.
The differing interpretations reflect the belief that personal experience filters symbolic meaning for each individual.
What are some other symbols you noticed while reading the novel? This post is part of the series:“The symbolic quality of the letter is transferred to Pearl in which reinforces the idea that the symbol combines the reference to an abstract idea with a material existence.” (Carrez) Although Hester loves Pearl, Pearl is a curse, the living personification of the scarlet letter, and is as much of a tormenting entity as the symbol upon her breast which also .
The Scarlet Letter's first chapter ends with an admonition to "relieve the darkening close of a tale of human frailty and sorrow" with "some sweet moral blossom." These opposites are found throughout the novel and often set the tone and define which side of good and evil envelop the characters.
In The Scarlet Letter, Nathanial Hawthorne made it quite evident that Pearl was a very symbolic character. As we know, following Hester’s act of adultery, she became pregnant with Pearl and we get the sense that there is something strange and unnatural about her when fist introduced.
(Click the symbolism infographic to download.) The Black Man is a euphemism for Satan in this book: Hester considers the scarlet letter A to be the Black Man's mark, and Pearl wonders aloud if the The Forest and the Wilderness.
Hawthorne references these hardships in order to portray the scarlet letter as the forbidden mark of adultery.
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Upon first meeting Hester, the scarlet letter is a symbol for adultery and disgrace. As the story progresses, the scarlet letter evolves into a symbol of wisdom and identity.
A summary of Themes in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of The Scarlet Letter and what it means. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans.