The Scarlet Letter Questions and Answers
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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In The Scarlet Letter, how does Hawthorne's description of the letter "A" relate to Hester's character?

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In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hawthorne's description of the letter "A" shows Hester’s quiet and subtle defiance of the hypocritical Puritans. Hawthorne writes,

On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold-thread, appeared the letter A. It was so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it had all the effect of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel which she wore; and which was of a splendor in accordance with the taste of the age, but greatly beyond what was allowed by the sumptuary regulations of the colony.

Phrases such as “fine red cloth,” “elaborate embroidery,” “fantastic flourishes,” “artistically done,” “gorgeous luxuriance,” “decoration,” and “splendor,” among other descriptive words, tell the reader that Hester has used her strong sewing skills to make the Scarlet A a decoration, an accessory to which all eyes are...

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