Incarnations of the Letter A
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the letter "A" changes its meaning many different times. This change is significant. It shows growth in the characters, and the community in which they live. The letter "A" begins as a symbol of sin. It then becomes a symbol of her ability to do and help things, and finally it becomes a symbol of her respect for herself.
The letter "A," worn on Hester's bodice, is a symbol of her adultery against Roger Chillingworth. This letter is meant to be worn in shame, and to make Hester feel unwanted. "Here, she said to herself, had been the scene of her guilt, and here should be the scene of her earthly punishment . . ." Hester is ashamed of her sin, but she chooses not to show it. She committed this sin in the heat of passion, and fully admits it because, though she is ashamed, she also received her greatest treasure, Pearl, out of it. She is a very strong woman to be able to hold up so ...