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The Scarlet Letter - Symbol of the Letter "A"

            "The Scarlet Letter," by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a novel in which a lonely woman, Hester Prynne, commits adultery with a preacher, Reverend Dimmesdale, while her husband is away. When leaders of the village learn of Hester's sin they punish her by forcing her to wear the letter "A" on her chest at all times so that everyone will know that she is an adulterer. Despite our initial negative perception of Hester, Hawthorne is able to adjust how we view Hester by incorporating times when the true symbolization of the "A" is positive. Hawthorne also allows the reader to analyze how Hester is able to further develop the meaning of the "A" by allowing us to compare her to Mr. Dimmesdale who, unlike Hester, only experiences the negative effects of the "A". In The Scarlet Letter, the "A" is intended to be a symbol of shame, but instead it gradually shifts to represent the fact that Hester is an asset to society because she exemplifies the only way how society can better itself: by accepting and learning from its mistakes.
             The reason why Hester is able to flourish after her considerable punishment is that she is able to come to peace with it and accept that she has made a mistake. Hester demonstrates an understanding of her sin when she approaches Roger Chillingworth, her husband, to admit that she sinned by sleeping with Reverend Dimmesdale, and asks for his forgiveness. After Chillingworth mentions to Hester that the magistrates are considering allowing Hester to remove the scarlet letter Hester responds, "It lies not in the pleasure of the magistrates to take off the badge Were I worthy to be quit of it, it would fall away of its own nature, or be transformed into something that should speak a different purport" (Hawthorne, 110). By Hester clearly articulating to Chillingworth that the magistrates are unable to judge weather or not the "A' should be removed demonstrates the fact that Hester notices that her sin does not concern her and the magistrates, but instead her and God.

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