The Meteor as a Symbol in the Scarlet Letter

The Meteor that Dimmesdale sees in Chapter 12 of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is an important symbol. As the minister watches the night sky, together with Hester and Pearl, a meteor appears that traces out an „A“. While most of the people think that the „A“ stands for „Angel“ and is showing that Governor Winthrop is gone and it marks his the entry to heaven, which will be proofed later on, but Dimmesdale, on the other hand, interprets it differently.

Him hiding his sins and „cover his heart with his hand“, the „A“ reminds him of Hester‘s Scarlet Letter. He thinks, it is a sign for him to wear the mark of shame too, so as Hester does. Seeing that God is trying to show his sins to the public, what he does not want, even through he is dying of that. The minister only will find peace by telling and confessing his sin and accepting it finally, to what he is not able to do until the end of the book.

This symbol shows us that there is more than one way to interpret things, like the Puritan way, who think of messages from God, typical warnings and bad things that will happen to them affecting their community. Dimmesdale only thinks about himself and the issue he has, he only interprets the meteor his way and no other, the symbol helped pushing him forward to finally built up the courage, he so badly needs to confess in front of the townspeople.

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