The Puritan “A” Essay

To the Puritans, the “A” was an unambiguous emblem signifying adultery, but Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter invests the letter with a series of possible alternative meanings.

In an essay (450-500 words), discuss the Puritan’s literal use of the “A” and the significance it had in Puritan religion. Also, name two alternate meanings of the “A” and explain what Hawthorne implies in presenting differing meanings. Be sure to provide evidence from the text to support your explanations.

Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the MLA Style Guide


  • “Edgar Allan Poe,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Black Cat,” “The Philosophy of Composition,” and From The Poetic Principle”
  • “Nathaniel Hawthorne” and The Scarlet Letter
  • “Herman Melville,” “Hawthorne and his Mosses,” and “Bartleby, the Scrivener”
  • Norton 2011–Norton-anthology of American Literature Vol package 1