In The Scarlet Letter, Hester uses her infamy as a way to change the Puritans’ mindset about those who have sinned. Throughout the novel, the Puritans of Boston treat Hester poorly due to the fact that she is a well-known adulteress. Despite her poor treatment, Hester does not allow the Puritans to control her life; in point of fact, she decides to interact with the Puritans through acts of charity so that she can eliminate the stigma associated with the scarlet letter. Originally, Hester never sinned so that she could go against god’s words. She sinned because she felt lonely, and she longed for someone who would love her and take care of her.
Hawthorne says, “She has wandered, without rule or guidance, onto a moral wilderness. Her intellect and heart had their name, as it were in desert places, where she roamed as freely as the wild Indian in his woods,” Here, Hawthorne wants the audience to recognize Hester as a free spirit, one who can not be tamed. Hawthorne contrasts Hester (and other young women) with older Puritan women, “Morally, as well as materially, there was a fibre in those wives and maidens...representative of the sex.” This quote shows the elders as symbols for conformity; this specific quote also doubles as a paradox is the sense that the women of the society are the ones who must conform, yet they are the most critical of individuality. Hawthorne continues to portray Hester as a normal person who is unique, “But Hester Prynne, with a mind of native courage and activity, and for so long a period not merely estranged, but outlawed, from society had habituated herself to such latitude of speculation as was altogether foreign to the clergyman…the scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread.
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy,” (KJV 28:13). The message of this short proverb is simple: confess. Despite this, there are millions refusing to reveal their hidden atrocities to the oblivious public. But you don’t need public ridicule for a sin to destroy you, in fact, it would be better if you did confess. This is the ideology of Nathaniel Hawthorne author of The Scarlet Letter. In this book, Hawthorne details an elaborate story showing the consequences of confessing sins in contrast to concealing it. A sin weighing down on you and destroying you from the inside out is a moral consequence and, the only remedy is confessing the sin. This notion can be seen in the difference between Hester and Dimmesdale with how they handled the scarlet letter and the effects of that.
Her sin had pushed her to do better and, in a way, to prove their thoughts on her wrong. Hester is marked with the scarlet letter for eternity, allowing anyone and everyone to see her sins. While she accepted her fate with a “with a burning blush and… a haughty smile”, the sin continues to stir within her and the feelings of guilt mix with regret constantly flows throughout her being (50). The
Throughout the beginning of The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne is publicly insulted and shamed as a result of her punishment for breaking the Puritan faith by committing adultery. She is then forced into standing in front of the whole town for hours as the crowd is breaking her down with hateful and abusive language. After, she had been released, "the scene was not without a mixture of awe, such as much always invest the spectacle of guilt and shame of a fellow creature" (Hawthorne 63). They almost had satisfaction in her punishment, having the perception that they had cleansed the town, and therefore only leaving a pure society. The society had thought that if they treated her so horribly no individual would attempt in committing acts that
The new opinion of the townspeople further proved that Hester was capable of changing from an immoral woman to a respectable and strong female. After her self-inflicted temptation, Hester was able to prove herself to the people around her as well as proving to herself that she was able to change. Society around her now visualized her as a new person who was capable of finding her inner strength, and instead of labeling her as the woman who possessed the Scarlet Letter, she became a woman who was powerful and respectable. By being able to realize how her change affected the folks around her, Hester continued to leap down a positive path of accepting herself and beginning to let go of her rebellious ways, even though this is all she had known in the
She receives three punishments from the townspeople, who claim they will free her from her sin. The community orders Hester to go to jail, wear a scarlet letter on her chest, and stand on the town scaffold for hours. Hester wears her scarlet letter proudly on her chest, and endures much suffering because of her public ridicule. Hester is “kept by no restrictive clause of her condemnation within the limits of the Puritan settlement” after she was released from prison, but she chooses to stay (Hawthorne 71). Later, Hester’s child, Pearl, symbolizes the Puritan view of Hester.
In the “Scarlet Letter,” Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays hypocrisy of the Puritan society, where the protagonist Hester Prynne face many consequences of her actions and the how she tries to redeem herself to the society. During the seventeenth puritans believe that it is their mission to punish the ones who do not follow God’s word and it is their job to stop those from sinning. Therefore, the hypercritical puritan society punishes Hester harshly for committing adultery, but in Hester’s mind, she believes that what she did was not a sin but acts of love for her man. Eventually, she redeems herself by turning her crime into an advantage to help those in need, yet the Puritan society still view her as a “naughty bagger.” (Hawthorne 78)
The townspeople “[began] to look upon the scarlet letter as a token, not of that one sin, for which she had borne so long and dreary a penance, but of her many good deeds since.” This quote exemplifies how sin is not a death sentence for Hester. Through hard work and charity it allowed the rigid Puritan society to see her as something different, and as someone who would not let society define who she was. Hester, thus, was not only able to change herself, but also the image in which society viewed her by working hard to benefit the public. Likewise, the scarlet letter which was supposed to represent sin was instead “fantastically embroidered with gold thread, upon her bosom.”
Scarlet “A” In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter there is no other vigorous personality like Hester Prynne. Hester was made out to be a shameful person who would never be pardoned of her sin. Hester is an empty puritan woman who commits adultery with a minister and has a daughter from her deceitful union. She goes through wearying passage from sin to salvation, but always seem to find her identity.
How the Scarlet Letter Transforms Hester In The Scarlet Letter, when Hester is first brought out on the scaffold to by publically shamed for her ignominy, Arthur Dimmesdale pleads with her to name him as her fellow sinner so that he will not have to reveal himself when he exclaims, "Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life.” Hester refuses him and Dimmesdale goes unnamed and unpunished until the very end of the story. While Dimmesdale refuses to accept responsibility for his sin, Hester embraces the shame of the community. It is this difference which causes Dimmesdale enormous amounts of guilt and pain while Hester in able to find peace with herself and with her situation.
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 "a people amongst whom religion and law [are] almost identical" (35). Hester Prynne struggles between the “iron framework” of Puritan ideas and her “freedom of speculation” 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”
The Virtue of Hester Prynne In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s highly acclaimed novel, The Scarlet Letter, a Puritan town’s reaction is described after Hester Prynne raises a scandal that goes against the town’s religious views. The Puritans believe the Bible should be translated into their life and that God should be the center of it. Many of them think of Hester as a sinful woman without virtue. They treat her as an outcast and consider that she is somehow affiliated with the Devil.
Why has the world changed completely in the last 175 years? Returning all this years when the novel took place, we appear in the middle of The 17th century New England, specifically Boston (Massachusetts Bay Colony) in the state religion was called the Church of England, which had broken off from the Roman Catholic Church about 200 years earlier. Where Hester Prynne lived, she was around people with the same traditions, she was a part of them until the truth of the sin appear. Since this moment her world changed and the people who, where among her started judging all the acts she made. But Hester Prynne transcends the nightmare of the Puritan community and courageously discovers her own self-reliance, living a life of simplicity and nonconformity.
Feminism is the philosophy advocating equal political, economic, and social rights for women. The idea of feminism was not at all prevalent during the 1850s when Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter was published. In spite of this, Hawthorne wrote one of the most influential feminist novels of his time: The Scarlet Letter. This novel was hailed as an important feminist novel because of the main character: Hester Prynne. Hester Prynne is the very embodiment of feminism because of her refusal to adhere to the societal norms, her independence in thought, and how the view of the society around her changes through the novel.