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How does Hawthorne  use symbols to link the four main characters in "The Scarlet...

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bryanxc | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 13, 2008 at 5:04 AM via web

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How does Hawthorne  use symbols to link the four main characters in "The Scarlet Letter"?

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 13, 2008 at 5:21 AM (Answer #1)

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All four of the main characters are linked to the Scarlet Letter "A". Hester, of course, must wear the scarlet letter on her chest as a symbol of adultery. Dimmesdale carves or burns a secret letter"A" on his chest which he reveals in the last scaffold scene. Hester dresses her daughter in dresses which have an "A" shape. And Dimmesdale is totally focused on finding the father of Pearl and jumps for joy when he finds an "A" on Dimmesdale's chest. In addition. all of the characters are connected by the scaffold. Hester must stand on the scaffold publicly as punishment for her crime of adultery.In the second scaffold scene, Dimmesdale is drawn to the scaffold in the middle of the night hoping that standing there will help him assuage his guilt. Ironically, Hester, Pearl and Chillingworth are all there by the end of the scene. And finally, all four are at the scaffold in the final scene. Dimmesdale is there to confess, Chillingworth is there to prevent Dimmesdale from confessing, Hester is there to support Dimmesdale, and Pearl is there to be finally acknowledged as Dimmesdale's daughter.

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