Example of allegory in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There seems to be some confusion here about allegory versus symbolism. A symbol is something that stands for some larger idea. It could be a color, object, place, person and so on. An allegory is when we can understand the entire story as a symbol. The two concepts are related but distinct.

If you are talking about taking the entire story as an allegory, then you could argue that Hawthorne is delving into issues of sin, guilt, hypocrisy, and women's rights. If you want to interpret the whole story as an allegory, you could look at how he uses the governor and the townspeople to point out the hypocrisy of people in power and how malleable public opinion is. You could also consider that The Scarlet Letter was written right around the Seneca Falls Convention and that Hawthorne knew several people who were active in the abolitionist and women's rights movements. You could make an argument that Hester's struggle is symbolic of the struggle of many women in the face of patriarchy.

If, however, you...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 567 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team