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The Role and Significance of the Letter “A” in The Scarlet Letter

As a key player in American literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter, to reflect his negative feelings towards his Puritan ancestors. Furthermore, the novel could also represent his fatherless childhood. Like Pearl, his mother extracted herself from society. Although Hawthorne’s mother did so willingly after the death of his sea-captain father, loneliness filled his youth with dark memories. The difference between Hester and Hawthorne’s mother lies in the disparity that Hester did not have a choice from isolating herself from society because the authorities forced her to wear the scarlet “A” and be condemned by the critical Puritan public. Ironically, Hester’s elaborate decoration of her punishment received an appalled response. Dimmesdale, on the other hand, had to let his guilt burn from within. He “carved” a symbolic “A” on his chest/heart to emit his contained overflowing guilt. Both the representative “A’s” on their chest reflect their inner...

Posted by: Chad Boger

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