The Scarlet Letter; and Hester’s Identity

Read Summary

The Scarlet Letter is a story about Hester Prynne, a woman who is punished by the Puritan community for committing adultery. She is forced to wear a scarlet letter A on her bosom as a symbol of her sin and immorality. The letter not only punishes her, but also labels her as an adulteress and immoral person. Hester’s transformation from a sinner to an able, acceptable, and respected woman is the main theme of the story. The scarlet letter symbolizes Hester’s identity as a pure and kind-hearted woman, despite her past sin. The irony in the novel is the difference between the identity assigned to Hester by society and the identity she creates for herself. The scarlet letter, which was meant to shame her, becomes a symbol of her strength and resilience.

Table of Content

First of all, the scarlet letter stands for Hester’s sin. By forcing Hester to wear the letter A on her bosom, the Puritan community not only punishes this weak young woman for her adultery but labels her identity as an adulteress and immoral human being as well. “Thus the young and the pure would be taught to look at her, with the letter flaming on her chest”, also “as the figure, the body and the reality of sin.” And the day Hester began to wear the scarlet A on her bosom is the opening of her darkness. From that moment, people, who look at her, must notice the letter A manifest itself in the red color covering not only her bosom, but her own character. The Puritans now only see the letter A, the representation of sin, scorn and hate …show more content…

The sin of adultery she once made doesn’t exist in the letter A any more. It has transformed from “adultery” into “able”, “acceptable”, and off course it’s made Hester the woman of pride, kindness, and respect. Hester did such an outstanding evolution that no woman in her times can: expressing self-identity, proving woman strength by showing her self-reliance and independence, revealing her goodness and kindness for people, and earning respect and pride. Together with the transformation of Hester, the scarlet letter once again symbolizes her identity as pure as an angel. Though she committed adultery and had to suffer a lot from this sin, her soul still remains in an original shape of purity. And the red color of letter A on her bosom, which once was the call of scorn, hate and bitterness towards Hester, now attracted people’s warmth, admiration and love as if it were a red burning color deep inside her heart. Hester deserves the highest recognition that the scarlet letter has done for her: a woman with a pure heart and soul of an angel. The most irony in the novel is the differences between the identity from which society assigns for Hester through the scarlet letter and the identity which she creates by herself. Though, letter A is a label of sin which people in the community try to impose on Hester, she doesn’t let this Puritan view interfere her thought and feeling. On the contrast it seems that this letter also exposes the .

Cite this page

The Scarlet Letter; and Hester’s Identity. (2018, Feb 09). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront