The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne continues to be a compelling story of betrayal, revenge, sin, and forgiveness that still resonates with students today. Many students, especially female students, find themselves appalled with the community’s treatment of Hester Prynne, and intrigued by the boundaries she and her little Pearl push in a puritanical society.
The Scarlet Letter Symbolism / Symbols in The Scarlet Letter
THE LETTER "A"
Like Hester, the rosebush stands out at a thing of beauty in a sea of gray. What Hester has done is against the expectations of the Puritan town of Boston. Against all odds, the rosebush has flourished against a prison, a symbol of hope against one of despair.
The scaffold is the scene of Hester's shame, her and Dimmesdale's connection with Pearl as a family (and where Chillingworth realizes this connection), and where their dreams are crushed as Dimmesdale dies after his final sermon and confession.
While the letter "A" initially stood for adultery, it soon came known to mean "Able" because Hester was humble and helped many with her sewing. A meteor over the town on the night of Governor Winthrop's death came to mean "Angel", but readers know it represented this little family, united for the first time.