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The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter Symbolism, Imagery & Allegory

Sometimes, there’s more to Lit than meets the eye.

The Prison Door

After the little Custom-House intro, Hawthorne dumps us right in the middle of the Puritan community, at a door that's "heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes" (1.1).Well, it is a...

Pearl, Hester's Daughter

If you want to know about Pearl as a person, check out her "Character Analysis." But she's just as much a symbol as she is a character in her own right: she represents the price of sin and the poss...

The Scarlet Letter

Hester's scarlet letter is a hardworking symbol. At various times, it symbolizes adultery, sin, hard work, skill, charity, righteousness, sacredness, and, of course, grace. Whew! We're exhausted ju...

The Red Mark on Dimmesdale's Chest

Hester isn't the only one with a symbol on her chest; Dimmesdale has one, too. In blood. But we can't quite figure this mark out. It's the physical manifestation of the minister's guilt, but we nev...

The Meteor

Life in the 21st century sure is boring. We may have iThings and FaceFinds, but we don't have meteors-in-the-shape-of-an-A and exploding stars and blazing spears in the midnight sky—or, if we do,...

The Black Man

The Black Man is a euphemism for Satan in this book: Hester considers the scarlet letter A to be the Black Man's mark, and Pearl wonders aloud if the Black Man left his brand on Dimmesdale's heart....

The Forest and the Wilderness

To the townspeople, the forest is the unknown. It's outside of the town, it's full of American Indians and scary creatures, and, worst of all, it's utterly lawless. The town is ruled by law and rel...

The Custom House

If you snoozed through the little introductory appetizer to The Scarlet Letter, we won't tell. (Shmoop will never tell.) The language is particularly thorny—which is saying a lot—and it's hard...

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