The Letter A

Length: 4 Pages 881 Words

Significance of The Letter A The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a novel that takes place in a Puritan community during the middle of the seventeenth century. The story is concerning a woman named Hester Prynne who had an affair with a man by the name of Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. This occurred after her husband inexplicably failed to join her in Boston after their emigration to America from England. Hester soon gives birth to a child, and is from then on condemned by her fellow townspeople. This condemnation consists of the town forcing her to wear the letter A upon her bosom. Throughout the book the letter A takes various shapes and forms for different people. The first person for whom the letter “A” takes shape for is Hester Prynne. For Hester the “A” can represent adulteress, ashamed, artist, able, armor, alienation, apostle, and angel. Hester commits adultery with Reverend Dimmesdale, a man who is not her husband. Her sin comes to the publics attention when Hester becomes pregnant, a task not possible by her husband since he had been missing for two years. The term adulteress is placed down on her as a punishment for going against the puritan ways and having intercourse with a man ot Continue...


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They do not bother with her existence and so she repels away from them as much as possible. Hester however was seen as too beautiful to be put to death so she was merely given town shame. She didn't want the father of her child to experience such harsh treatment, so she kept quiet. Hester Prynne's biggest conflict within the story is that she gave birth to an illegitimate child. The letter's meaning shifts as time passes. She has to try to balance the lives of both her and her child, Pearl. Closure for Hester is finally possible when both her husband and her lover die. The town has thrown her into exile, with no chance of receiving any kind of help. She would not dare give the townspeople who have punished her and seen her as such a disgrace, the satisfaction of knowing the father of her child. She did not make it dull or small, she had made it beautiful. She is no longer stuck with the guilt of having to ruin a man's structure and credibility within the church. The "A is supposed to be used, as a form of punishment but Hester does not see it that way. During the seventeenth century adultery was viewed as a high crime. Hester has to live everyday with the guilt she has placed upon herself.

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