The Scarlet Letter

describe the "letter."

chapter 2

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Hester emerges from the prison with elegance and a ladylike air to her movements. She clutches her three month old daughter, Pearl. She has sown a large scarlet A over her breast, using her finest skill to make the badge of shame appear to be a decoration. Several of the women are outraged when they see how she has chosen to display the letter, and they want to rip it off.

Here we are introduced to the scarlet A which has become eponymous with the novel itself. Its introduction carries a touch of humor or, at least, resistance: Hester has appropriated the supposed symbol of shame as a beautifully embroidered letter, which she wears without the slightest air of anguish or despair. Indeed, the fine stitch work around the A has reduced it to an ornament, a decorative and trivial accessory.