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Word Count: 890
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is generally considered to be the first American symbolic novel A symbol is something which is used to represent something broader in meaning The most obvious symbol in the novel is the actual scarlet A which both the criticism and I agree upon This A is the literal symbol of the sin of adultery The letter A then appears in many different forms throughout the novel The gold-embroidered A on Hester Prynnes fascinates Pearl Prynne It is magnified in the armor breast plate at Governor Bellinghams mansion which is so extreme that it seems to hide and cover Hester On the night of Arthur Dimmesdale vigil he sees a red A in the sky And finally the letter is revealed on Dimmsdales chest in front of the whole village The A also takes on many meanings It has the original meaning as well as different meanings to various characters To Hester the A means humiliation The A to Dimmesdale is a reminder of his own contrition To Pearl the A is peculiarity and Roger Chillingworth sees the A as a journey for retaliation Other then adultery the A can also stand for Angel and Able Angel for it appears in the sky after Governor Winthrops death Able for Hester has won the respect of the Puritans even if she has sinned terribly Hawthorne uses the prison building to describe crime and punishment in contrast with the tombstone at the end of the novel This statement suggests the crime and punishment will eventually lead to the death of the malefactor One positive symbol is the rosebush outside the prison I feel it represents a sweet person hidden in the encasements of a dark prison a true diamond in the rough The symbol for Puritanism according to one critic is when Hawthorne uses the beadle I can see how the Puritans are compared to minor parish officials in the Church
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