If you look up the meaning of the Scarlet Letter, it will take you to a shocking truth. No matter how classy it may sound, Scarlet Letter was used as an identifying mark or brand on someone who has committed Adultery.
The meaning of the Scarlet Letter originated in a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1850, titled ‘The Scarlet Letter. This novel is one of the few masterpieces considered by American Literature and a classic moral study. This novel discusses sin, shame, punishment, guilt, revenge, and redemption.
To add a little trivia, did you know that for the past 150 years, writers and songwriters have invoked the scarlet Letter to symbolize the public shaming of a person’s sin? One of this generation’s well-known singers, Taylor Swift, used the term “scarlet letter” twice in her songs. The first is on her hit track, Love Story, and the other is in her piece, New Romantics.
The novel, The Scarlet Letter is about a young woman named Hester Prynn, who was borne a child out of wedlock. The Scarlet Letter took place in Puritan, New England. Hester then believes that she is a widow. However, her husband, Roger Chillingworth, arrived in New England one day very much alive. Knowing about her wife’s adventures, he decided to conceal his identity. This idea of Roger doesn’t last as Hester soon finds out about Roger’s real estate.
Hester was then forced to wear a scarlet letter A on her dress as a punishment for her Adultery. After this, her husband asked her about her child’s birth father. However, Hester remained tight-lipped about the topic, refusing to give her husband any satisfaction or information. Roger then became obsessed with finding Hester’s lover, so he dug deep and asked for any possible clue. Soon enough, Roger learned that his wife’s lover is Arthur Dimmesdale, also known as the sanity young minister who acted as a leader of those exhorting Hester. Roger decided to torment Arthur.
Due to Arthur’s contriteness, he fell seriously ill. In this novel, Hester is known as a self-made heroine who is never genuinely repentant for committing Adultery with the minister. She stands for her belief that their deep love for each other consecrated their relationship. Over time, Hester’s compassion and dignity silenced many of her critics.
At the novel’s end, Roger is degraded by his monomaniacal look for revenge. On the other hand, Arthur became too broken by his guilt and decided to publicly confess his relationship with Hester before dying in Hester’s arms.
After the height of events, Hester bravely faces the future as she prepares to create her brand new life with her daughter, Pearl, in Europe. After years of peaceful living in Europe, Hester returns to New England and continues wearing the scarlet Letter.
After Hester’s death, she was then buried beside Arthur. Their tombstone was joint where the words: ON A FIELD, SABLE, THE LETTER A, GULES were inscribed.
The words ‘On a field, sable, the letter A, gules’ literally translate to “On a black field, the sin is red.” This sentence means that although Hester and Arthur’s love might be deep and genuine, it doesn’t erase the fact that they committed a grave sin, and they will continue to bear the punishment for that sin even after their death.
As observed in the novel, two colors represent the happenings in the story. First is the color black. This color represents all the evil things that happen in the book. Sin, revenge, obsession, and death, The second color are Red. This color represents the emotion of the characters, such as love, passion, and anger.
This novel was found by many people in this generation unreadable or boring. Some say it ignites a fire of anger for the main character and her lover. Although valid, The Scarlet Letter holds a deep meaning that might not be visible to other people’s eyes. Aside from the fact that it symbolizes sin, especially Adultery, each character, thing, or happening has contributed to the symbolism in the novel.
Pearl, Hester’s child, represents the innocence of those born out of wedlock. Their parents might have sinned, but others should not shame their children for the things their parents caused. Some say that the name Pearl symbolizes her mother’s view of her child as the only child and the sole solace of Hester.
Once you look closer into it, The Scarlet Letter will give you a lot of symbolism. Often ignored, but those mentioned above are just a few things we cannot commonly decipher. The Scarlet Letter is worth the time and effort of reading. You can learn many lessons from it and reflections you can make.
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