Hester Prynne: A Radical Feminist

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In the film, Hester is a feminist icon in the village long before the A is placed on her. Before any sexual component is introduced, she exerts her independence through living by herself, well separated from the rest of the town. She also spends money on indentured servants and a slave, asking if her money “is good enough” (The Scarlet Letter). She is also well-read, having read Milton due to her husband’s library. And, when Reverend Dimmesdale asks if her tongue follows any rules, she quickly and bluntly responds with, “if it did, what purpose would it serve?” (The Scarlet Letter). In the novel, her leaning towards feminist insights does not begin until long after the A is on her breast. At one point, contemplating suicide, she questions…show more content…
She’s a radical feminist, taking on the role of Anne Hutchinson in the film. At the start of the novel, Hawthorne’s narrator describes a rose bush, and the myth of how it came to grow: “there is fair authority for believing, it had sprung up under the footsteps of the sainted Ann Hutchinson, as she entered the prison-door” (37). Of course, the charges placed against Anne Hutchinson are not the same as those placed on Hester Prynne, except for perhaps not acting like a woman should. In fact, by the time Hester starts counseling women, it is years after the dramatic events following the placement of the scarlet letter. While she counsels whoever comes to her, it is women who more often knock on her door: “Women, more especially,—in the continually recurring trials of wounded, wasted, wronged, misplaced, or erring and sinful passion…came to Hester’s cottage, demanding why they were so wretched, and what the remedy” (165). However, while Hester might be counseling women, it is nothing like the meetings that Hutchinson had held, which was a space where women could educate each other and converse on more than just sin, but all sectors of religious thought. But in the movie, Hester is basically Anne Hutchinson with a new name. She regularly attends meetings among women, quotes the bible at the magistrates, and boasts a special connection with God: “I know some consider it blasphemous to say this, but I do talk to God. I have since I was a small child. And He answers me.” (The Scarlet Letter). This is exactly what Anne Hutchinson is expelled for. By making the protagonist mimic her in this way, the viewer comes to see Hester as a radical long before her affair, and long before she starts wearing the A. Since she is a feminist so early on, the scarlet letter has little bearing. In the novel, the letter is meant as a punishment for the crime of adultery, but in the film, the letter is
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