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The Scarlet Letter Questions

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What did the letter mean?


george b #46764
Oct 17, 2007 11:14 PM

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What did the letter mean?

what was the overall meaning of it?

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coco s #17435
Oct 20, 2007 2:14 PM

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"A"  stands for "adultress."  Hester is forced to wear it on her bosom (of all places) as a signal to the rest of the town that she had committed a terrible sin.  Ironically, though the sin of adultry is ugly, her letter is beautifully embroidered and serves to demonstrate Hester's skill at sewing. 

While Hester must parade her sin around for all to see, many other characters have committed ugly acts that have not been exposed to the community.  Rev. Dimmesdale is equally guilty but enjoys the respect of the citizens because his sin has not been revealed.  Eventually, he suffers greatly from this--perhaps even more than Hester does. 

The "A" is scarlet and permanent, like a blood stain.  The town is unable to get past Hester's sin.  Forgiveness is not an option.  The people (and the society) refuse to let Hester move forward after her sin.  She is stuck in shame for the rest of her life. 

I think Hawthorne is pointing at the refusal to forgive and the ironies of exposed sin vs. hidden sin.

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