Scarlet Letter

Scarlet Letter
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  • Lily Raymond"The Scarlet Letter Storyboard"24 October, 2019
  • The theme of Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" is the shame and guilt associated with sin. This theme is present in all chapters throughout the book because of the scarlet "A" she has to wear for her whole life. This theme is clearly expressed however, in chapter 3 "The Recognition", when she is being publicly shamed in front of the town.
  • In chapter 3, Hester Prynne is being  "sentenced her to stand for a mere three hours on the platform of the pillory and then to wear a mark of shame on her bosom for the rest of her life” (ch.3 pg.2). She is being punished for adultery, which is considered a highly punishable sin in puritan culture. This scene clearly expresses the theme of shame associated with sin because it is explained how Hester has to spend the rest of her life being shamed for her sins.
  • A symbol that appears frequently throughout the novel is the red "A" that Hester Prynne has to wear on her bosom. The letter stands for "adulterer". The purpose of her being forced to wear the letter is to shame her and let everyone know she is an adulterer.
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  • The letter "A" relates to the theme of the shame of sin because once Hester is forced to wear the letter for the rest of her life, everyone will judge her and she will be shamed. 
  • Hawthorne also uses specific diction throughout the novel to express the theme of shame of sin. In chapter 2, a group of women gossip about her and refer to themselves as "mature, church-going women" as opposed to a "hussy" like Hester. This diction expresses how other people see Hester as a lesser person because of what she did. 
  • Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 1804-1864. The Scarlet Letter. New York, N.Y., U.S.A. :Signet Classic, 1988.
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