The Scarlett Letter

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The Effective Use of Symbolism The novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne is an intriguing account of a Puritan community that experiences a breakdown in beliefs. The story deals with a woman, Hester, who commits adultery with a Calvinistic minister resulting in the birth of a child (Martin 110). As compensation for her crime of passion and her refusal to name her lover, Hester is sentenced to wear an embroidered scarlet letter on her bosom. …

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…torn in two between the different meanings she possesses towards the scarlet letter. The pain inflicted by the letter remains with Hester, while at the same time she takes satisfaction in having the letter. She views the letter as “an armor of pride that is also a mantle of suffering” (Martin 114). The letter serves as a constant reminder to Hester of her sin and brings the coldness of the community on her. She becomes iso