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Adultery or Able: What “A” Truly is

By , Springfield, MO
The Letter A could mean a lot of different things; like one, or a fragment of a sentence, or something out of the ordinary like Able, or even adultery. How do these coincide with one another? Adultery is something that is extremely bad, but if people live up to what they are, then maybe that “A” will turn into able? The real definition of the word A is nothing alike to what the symbol that is present to the public. Let people get to know what the “A” could really mean; maybe something with Dimmesdale; the reverend in his town and also the father of Pearl, or Hester which is the adulteress and the one who wears the “A” on her chest or lastly Pearl; who is the daughter of Hester and Dimmesdale. Maybe one can find out what Nathaniel Hawthorne really wants us to know about his “A” in The Scarlet Letter.

In the beginning of The Scarlet Letter, Hester makes an elaborate letter “A” to wear on
her shirt to show everyone that she has committed adultery. In the book, Hester plants an “A” on her chest: “Surrounded with elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the Letter “A” (Hawthorne 6). The people that see the “A” know why it is on her shirt. They mock, look down upon, and criticize her without any remorse. This might hurt Hester at the time, but Dimmesdale has not made an “A” or explained to anyone that he is the other half that takes to commit adultery. He has been feeling guilty and is fearful of what any and everyone will think of him once he tells everyone.

Throughout the book, Hester becomes more social with the people in town. People seek out Hester and ask her for advice; they start to rethink the “A” that is sewn on her chest, they begin to think the “A” means able. Able to endure anything that strolls along. Hester and her daughter Pearl are more open to society; they begin to fit in with their surroundings again. This is an example that gives great reference for the explanation: “The effect of the symbol- or rather, of the position in respect to society that was indicated by it- on the mind of Hester Prynne herself was powerful and peculiar” Hawthorne (115). This explains how this meaning of the “A” has changed to a rather good thing for Hester. Dimmesdale on the other hand is getting worse, he begins to think that there is no way he can tell anyone that he is the father. He is constantly feeling guilty.

When Dimmesdale and Hester get together and decide to leave from where they are and go somewhere else to get away from everything. Before the sermon, Dimmesdale feels that he will finally be able to leave and have a new start in life. He gives the sermon and stands in front of everyone with Hester beside him, explaining that he is as a bad a sinner as Hester, trying to confess to everyone. He then tells the people that if God wants to punish him more that he will do so, and then die. Which he did, he ended up dying when he confessed People in the town thought this which about Dimmesdale: “Some declared, that, if Mr. Dimmesdale were really going to die, it was cause enough that the world was not worthy to be any longer trodden by his feet.” (Hawthorne 71). Hester continues living, and leads a good happy life.
Nathaniel Hawthorne in this book tries to give a lot of different meanings to the letter “A” He explains to readers, that in the beginning that “A” is meant for adultery, and then a couple of chapters later it is able. Those coincide with each other by showing that people have to be how they are or express themselves to everyone or you will lose who you are and not be able to live life with a satisfactory outlook. The point Hawthorne is trying to get across is this: Nathaniel tries to get this point across; if one is not “Able” to live up to “Adultery,” then what are people going to be “Able” to do with themselves?





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