What meaning or purpose does a single letter have on a life? For instance the letter “A- could mean many things such as adulterous, able and angel as in Nathanial Hawthorne’s romantic novel The Scarlet Letter. The letter so beautifully embroidered by a woman to remind her and the town’s people of her sin. If you were an outsider to this city you would wonder what rank or status does this letter signify. Who is this person that should be adorned with such a beautiful decoration? For the individual that wears it though it is a constant reminder. The scarlet letter is a symbol of an immoral sin that manifests many forms and has literal, natural, supernatural and physical manifestations, to different characters, that change over the course of time.
The literal meaning of the scarlet letter changes from adultery to able from the time that Hester Prynne fashioned it up until when Nathanial Hawthorne found it in the customhouse. When Hester first fashions the scarlet letter has a meaning of adulterer. As stated by Becovitch, a critic, .
” The Scarlet Letter is a story of socialization in which the point of socialization is not to conform, but to consent. Anyone can submit; the socialized believe. It is not enough to have the letter imposed; you have to do it yourself. The scarlet letter is at first imposed on Hester by the Puritan Magistrates, but this does not represent the best form of socialization because Hester does not wear it willingly but bears it as a punishment.””(Telgen 318).
Hester wears the scarlet letter proudly for all to see that she is repenting her sin and that her fellow adulterer is not. If a punishment is forced onto you it is more severe but if you have to instigate your own punishment then it is less severe in a physical sense. Over time though as people start to forget the actual meaning of the scarlet letter, its meaning begins to change. “The letter was the symbol of her calling.