Feminist Ideals In Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Letter is a perfect example of how one person in a society can defy the traditional social structure. Throughout the literature, Hawthorne presents numerous examples of feminist ideals through the character of Hester. After analyzing and interpreting the meaning of the novel, Hawthorne specifically targets gender roles in societies by making the protagonist of the story a woman. Hawthorne questions the expectation that men should retain all authority and purpose by creating a character that specifically rejects these traditional norms.
Hawthorne continuously demonstrates feminist ideals by characterizing and portraying Hester to be the character that breaks gender roles in Salem society.
Hawthorne expertly begins the novel
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In the beginning Hester was portrayed to be every mans desire, the perfect woman. However, after her years with the Scarlet Letter she began drifting away from the society's standards of what made her ‘beautiful’ and she became her own personalized version of it. “It might be partly owing to the studied austerity of her dress, and partly to the lack of demostantion in her manners… That her rich and luxuriant hair had either been cut off, or was so completely hidden by a cap, that not a shining lock of it ever once gushed into the sunshine… there seemed to be no longer anything in Hesters face for love to dwell upon ; nothing in Hester's bosom, to make it ever again the pillow of affection.” (Wahl) She completely changed her physical appearance, not because of her humiliation but because of her realization of how societies standards negatively affects women. She no longer wanted to fit the desires of man, she wanted to fit her own desires. Hester's change in appearance was looked at negatively by Salem society because they could never understand it's true underlying meaning; that beauty is a board standard determined by society as a whole instead of individually. “The Scarlet Letter had not done its office.” (Wahl) It was presented to Hester as a cruel punishment for bearing a child outside of her marriage. It was meant to humiliate her in public for the rest of her days. The Scarlet Letter was meant to make its victim an outcast of society and instead it empowered Hester and helped her realize the damaging gender standards in her
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