On The Symbolism In The Scarlet Letter

4236 words - 17 pages

On the Symbolism in the Scarlet Letter

Written by: Li Yanwei
Supervised by: Zheng Gaohong

English Department
College of Adult Education
Anhui Normal University

October 2010

I would like to express my appreciation for my classmates, my teacher and my Lecturer Zheng .With their help, I achieved this essay. Thanks to my classmates who give encouragement and reference books for me. I also acknowledge my comprehensive English teacher who gives me available information and advices .And I want give my special gratefulness to Mr. Zheng, he provides a lot of effective suggestions for my thesis ,and suggests me how to perfect ...view middle of the document...

After his father lost at sea when he was only four years old, his mother became overly protective and pushed him toward more isolated pursuits. Hawthorne's childhood left him overly shy and bookish, and molded his life as a writer. The Scarlet Letter which makes him known all around the world is one of his most famous works. The novel published in 1850s, which is notable for its allegory and symbolism and is regarded as the first symbolic novel in American literature. The Scarlet Letter recounts the story of Hester Prynne who is a young, recently married woman. She is sent to start a new life in America while her husband remains in England. In America she falls into love with another man and gives birth to a baby. This behavior is against for the puritan law, so she has been caught and asked to tell the truth. However, she does not reveal the name of her lover after a public trial, and she is forced to wear a scarlet letter "A" which is marking her as an adulteress. Unknown to her or her lover, her husband stands among the crowd who condemns her. Hester’s husband a cold-hearted man who decides to find the father of the baby, and takes actions of his plan to revenge. When finding the truth, he begins to torment Dimmesdale. In this situation, he has to agree with Hester's escape plan. But it fails. Finally, Dimmesdale, with Hester and Pearl, go to the scaffold. He admits that he is the father of the Pearl and dies. Later, Chinngworth also passes away. While Hester is acknowledged through her intergrity and attic faith of the life.

2. The significance

As a great romantic novelist in America in 19th century, Hawthorne is outstanding in handling the application of symbolism. The Scarlet Letter is Hawthorne's the most important symbolic novel, which stands as the best work of Hawthorne and one of the indubitable masterpieces of American literature. This essay aims at the exploration of the usage of the symbolism in the novel. It mainly discusses the deep symbolic significance of the scarlet letter "A", the four major characters, and the objects. The scarlet letter is the central symbol of the novel. It is symbolic meaning changes from "adultery" to "able", even "angel" in the novel. It also examines the symbolic meanings of little Pearl and some typical natural surroundings such as the jail, the forest, the scaffold and so on. This novel has a very important symbolic significance.
Meanwhile, the Scarlet Letter depicts three kinds of criminals in the puritan society; they are Hester who makes a sin of adultery, Dimmesdale who makes a sin of cheating, and Chillingworth who makes a sin of vengeance. It probes deeply into the essence of the puritan community, reveals the cruelty of law in the Capitalist society, the religious cheating and hypocritical morality.

Chapter2 The Symbolism of the Letter "A"

2.1 "A" for "Adultery " "shame " and "human nature"


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