Conformity In The Scarlet Letter

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The choice of whether to conform to society's demands or to comply with personal impulses is a difficult one. This is an idea that Nathaniel Hawthorne explores extensively in The Scarlet Letter. This theme of conformity and individuality is manifested mainly through the character of Hester Prynne; a woman who committed adultery in an idealistic Puritan town with (35). Hester Prynne struggles between the of Puritan ideas and her constantly throughout the novel. As the story develops, however, it is evident to the reader that Hester is an individual—not a product of her town. Towards the end of the novel, Hester’s “freedom of speculation” seems to wins out, triumphant over the preconceived notions of her society. Overall, Hester Prynne is the antithesis of an ideal conformist, as a “freedom of speculation” dominates her character. She does not suppress her flaws as a human, nor does she try to hide them. This notion is illustrated when Hester is released from jail: (36). Hester rejects being escorted by an officer in order to confront her sin on her own. Hawthorne’s diction in this passage …show more content…

This idea manifests itself in Hester’s refusal to remove from her bosom the scarlet letter, a symbol which was (38). One instance of this is when Roger Chillingworth informs Hester that the council has recently discussed allowing her to remove the scarlet letter from her chest. She responds by saying, (117). By saying that the scarlet letter will come off when she is “worthy to be quit of it” shows that she believes she must wear it because of her unworthiness. This passage also reveals Hester’s belief that the scarlet letter—a symbol of her sin—defines her, and should remain on her bosom. This connects to the Puritan belief that people like Hester are only on Earth as a lesson for others: (54). Hester’s denial of the removal of the scarlet letter reveals the deep-rooted Puritan ideals in her

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