Meanings and Symbols: Analyse Them In Your Essay

1. A Scarlet Letter

Although the scarlet letter is meant to be a symbol of shame it turns out to be a powerful symbol of identity. As time passes, the letter’s meaning changes. Previously, it was meant to mark Hester as an adulterer but it came to mean able. At first, it symbolizes Hester’s shame and sin. This is because she commits adultery and gets a child as a result. However, he refuses to let this to be dictated by others. Although she is going to wear it she must own it and make it beautiful. Once she takes its ownership she makes it a cool symbol for identity.
Later, the scarlet letter meant adultery and able, meaning Hester is such able woman who can do anything. She not only works hard but the people also recognizes her. They start admiring her for charity and grace that then begins to change the meaning of the scarlet letter. She later takes the meaning of the letter again but this time it’s something new and something to be admired. She has actually transformed the meaning of scarlet letter through actions and attitude. In the face of what could be a bad punishment she became such a boss lady.


2. Red and black


This symbolizes Hester’s passion. Here, black symbolizes sin and devil. The narrator compares Chilling worth with Satan. By talking about Satan, he tries to question whether humans are good or evil or whether evil happens just by an accident. They actually likes to use black as symbol of evil making it something that is different from the common human life. However, here, we do not know whether Hawthome agrees or not.

3. Pearl

Apart from being Hester’s daughter, Pearl also symbolizes redemption and sin. This means there is duality in her existence. She symbolizes sin and acts as a living reminder of adulterer. However, she also represents Hester’s redemption and hope. She gives up a lot of things for pearl including her standing in the community, her reputation, and her friendship that makes her precious just like her name. She also gives her a new reason to live and represents the spirit in her. This is the heart of her humanity and what makes her the person she is. She is a human being hence has a chance to redeem herself. Later on, she redeems herself in the face of her community.

4. Forest and wilderness

According to the town people the forest is unknown and is full of scary creatures and American Indians and to make matters worse there is no rule of law. The town is basically ruled by religion and law but the forest is just a place of emotion and passion. We can see an example of this when the narrator compares Hester’s state to the forest. She says that Hester had wondered without any guidance or law. This means she is cast out of the order of town and forced to live in the forest. Her little cottage is in outskirts, out of any social activity.

5. Custom house

In the custom house the narrator is the chief executive officer of the custom house. He has a mixture of facts and fiction and follows the story of how he came to write the scarlet letter. This is a government’s building located near a wharf where all sea captains, sailors, and merchants are required to report to. This is where they go to pay tax on their goods. However, since things has slowed down and the building itself is almost falling apart the narrator talks about the statue of the American eagle that hovers over the house. Although eagle is a very powerful symbol in America, here it represents a very unwelcoming symbol that does not care whether you live or die. It represents the attitude of puritans.

6. The meteor

According to the puritans any natural feeling that was not regular was interpreted as a super natural warning from God about an approaching bad omen. When Hester and Demmesdale have an accidental meeting and then climb the scaffold together while holding Pearls hands they are first seen as a family and even God sees them so. This is explained by a meteor that appears across the sky. This is according to Dimmesdale. Although this can be attributed to the disease in his eyes he thinks only on what the meteor means to him. However, this is different from the community interpretation.

7. Rosebush

While Hawthorne does not tell an obvious answer to the symbol of rosebush there are several things that can be drawn. For instance, rosebush may symbolize Hester who despite all has not given in to the judgmental method of the Puritan theocracy. Normally, they symbolize passion and this is evidenced in Hester’s pregnancy and the passion that she experienced. The beauty of the scarlet A and the beauty of the rose indicates the kind of beauty that is not common among the good people in community. It also shows something beautiful can come out of the coldest environment.

7. Leech

In normal circumstances, a leech means a blood sucking parasite that is used in book to refer to a person who uses other people. This is the best word that describes Chillingworth since he is figuratively using other people. Hawthorne also uses a leech to mean a physician since it has a double meaning. For instance, as doctor Chillingworth is making complicated medicines that he learned from Indians and he also seems to be using Dimmesdale.

Read also

How to Cite This Study Guide



The Paper Guide. «Scarlet Letter Meanings and Symbols» The Paper Guide.

February 9, 2017

< >

In text

(The Paper Guide)



The Paper Guide. (February 9, 2017). Scarlet Letter Meanings and Symbols.

In The Paper Guide, from .

< >

In text

(The Paper Guide, February 9, 2017)



The Paper Guide. "Scarlet Letter Meanings and Symbols." February 9, 2017.

< > .


The Paper Guide, "Scarlet Letter Meanings and Symbols," February 9, 2017.

< > .