Scarlet Letter4

This essay has a total of 672 words and 4 pages.

Scarlet Letter4






Incarnations of the Letter A

In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the letter "A" changes its meaning many
different times. This change is significant. It shows growth in the characters, and the
community in which they live. The letter "A" begins as a symbol of sin. It then becomes a
symbol of her ability to do and help things, and finally it becomes a symbol of her
respect for herself.

The letter "A," worn on Hester's bodice, is a symbol of her adultery against Roger
Chillingworth. This letter is meant to be worn in shame, and to make Hester feel
unwanted. "Here, she said to herself, had been the scene of her guilt, and here should be
the scene of her earthly punishment . . ." Hester is ashamed of her sin, but she chooses
not to show it. She committed this sin in the heat of passion, and fully admits it
because, though she is ashamed, she also received her greatest treasure, Pearl, out of it.
She is a very strong woman to be able to hold up so well, against what she must face. Many
would have fled Boston, and sought a place where no one knew of her great sin. Hester
chose to stay though, which showed a lot of strength and integrity. Any woman with enough
nerve to hold up against a town which despised her very existence, and to stay in a place
where her daughter is referred to as a "devil child," either has some sort of
psychological problem, or is a very tough woman.

The second meaning that the letter "A" took was "able." The townspeople who once
condemned her now believed her scarlet "A" to stand for her ability to create beautiful
needlework and for her unselfish assistance to the poor and sick. "The letter was the
symbol of her calling. Such helpfulness was found in her- so much power to do and power to
sympathize- that many people refused to interpret the scarlet 'A' by its original
signification." At this point, many the townspeople realized what a godly character Hester
possessed. "Do you see that woman with the embroidered badge? It is

our Hester- the town's own Hester- who is so kind to the poor, so helpful to the sick, so
comforting to the afflicted!" The townspeople soon began to believe that the badge served
to ward off evil, and Hester grew to be quite loved amongst the people of the town. Hester
overcame the shame of her sin through the purity and goodness of her soul. Unselfishly
offering her time and love to those who needed her the most proved that she was not worthy
of the fate which had been dealt to her.

The final face of the letter "A" was a symbol of Hester's respect for herself, and for her
life. It just changed to a way of life for Hester. After returning to England for years,
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