Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter (21-24)

The Scarlet Letter comes to a close discussing how the letter became a symbol of adversity and how it was overcome.

“The scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the world’s scorn and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe, and yet with reverence, too.”

Hester became an example of redemption and self-empowerment rather than just an example of sin. I thought it was a great way to sum up the book because this concept is so often true in many different aspects of life. How many times do we see something bad turn good down the road in time? Look at history, or even in our lives. In present time we look at something with negative reverence then down the road in the future we learn a lesson and gain knowledge and that once negative situation is looked on as a great moment in our history, one that we needed to move us forward. Hester is this example in the book. After many years absence Hester returns to her former home, still wearing the scarlet letter, a hero, a symbol of knowledge and self-empowerment. There’s a song that I can really relate this too, perhaps you know it, it’s called “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry. Theres a verse in it;

“A penny for my thoughts, oh, no, I’ll sell ’em for a dollar they’re worth so much more after I’m a goner and maybe then you’ll hear the words I been singing’ funny when you’re dead how people start listenin'”

This verse couldn’t be more true. When our minds are made up we don’t change them until something changes it for us whether it’s death, or in Hester’s case, time. And then once it’s changed, those words/lessons become twice as valuable. No one listened to Hester’s voice, they only saw her as a living, breathing example of sin and the scarlet letter that she carried. During her absence the town came to realize that she was not the walking symbol of sin but rather redemption.


via Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter (21-24).

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