Hester was forced to wear the scarlet A and “It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself,” (Hawthorne 51). Hester feels extremely isolated and alone when she wears the scarlet letter, as she knows it was not solely her in this sin. Dimmesdale uses Hester’s suffering as a reason to not confess by seeing the negative effects it has on her. Hawthorne shows that this makes the pain even worse for Hester, as she is experiencing the punishment of this sin alone. This also forces her to become a single mother and raise Pearl alone. Hester cannot fulfil Pearl’s need for a father and tells her that she, “...must gather thine own sunshine. I have none to give thee!” (Hawthorne 94). Pearl is negatively affected by Dimmesdale’s silence, as she will not grow up with a father. Hester is only one source of income, and Pearl could suffer from this. Dimmesdale puts and innocent child’s life under his need for status in society. Dimmesdale’s masks negatively affect Pearl and
Hester Prynne, being the main character of the novel and having the punishment of wearing the scarlet letter A on her bosom, was convicted of adultery after she had conceived a little girl. Hester was originally sent to Boston and was supposed to wait for her husband to finish up affairs in Europe, but instead had an affair with none other than Arthur Dimmesdale, one of the highest figures in the
These characteristics are brought forth by the scarlet letter. It is these same aspects of Hester that enable her to keep her sanity during her arduous time spent in isolation. Therefore, even though the scarlet “A” brings Hester great pain and suffering, it also transforms her in a way that allows her to withstand the burden that is brought on by the disgraceful symbol. As told by the narrator, "The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers-stern and wild ones-and they had made her strong." These “teachers” instill in Hester the characteristics needed to overcome her shame. Dimmesdale does not confess his adultery and thus is never given the tools he needed to escape from his sin. Hester, however, is at peace with her situation, and because of this is able to use her suffering to make herself
Hester is accused of adultery, and is forced by the city magistrates to wear a scarlet letter A on her chest for the rest of her life. She is forced to wear the mark, living with the “pang of it … always in her heart.” (78) Although she initially tries to degrade the negative connotation of the scarlet letter by decorating it and covering it up, she grows to accept “the scarlet letter flaming on her breast” (118), and the letter only increases her strength. The letter, although not a physical punishment, affects her more on a social and emotional level, isolating her from society and drawing ridicule from townsfolk. Her isolation leads her to connect with only a limited few, including Mistress Hibbins, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth. More important than its meaning is the letter’s connection to the mark of the Black Man. The letter is a symbol of Hester’s sin, a mark telling society to stay away because of the awful evil she has committed. However, this letter A is also the mark of the Black Man. According to the “old dame[,] … [the] scarlet letter was the Black Man’s mark,” (277-278) , a symbol of one’s allegiance to the powers of evil. Hawthorne purposefully instills this connection, and forces the reader to more closely at the parallel. When questioned by Pearl, Hester sheds light on her letter, saying that she did “Once in [her] life I [meet] the Black Man” (278), and that the “scarlet letter is [in fact] his mark!” (278) Hester only internally realizes the connection between the Black Man and Chillingworth, but her claim leads the reader to understand the true relationship between the two connotations of her scarlet
Throughout the passage from The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses Hester’s baby, Pearl, to illuminate the theme of beauty in a dark place. Once released from prison, Hester, an adulterer, becomes a public spectacle. Through this hard time, Hester has her daughter Pearl to soothe her and to bring her strength and hope for a better future. By using vivid imagery and juxtaposition, Hawthorne depicts Pearl as Hester’s happiness, light, and beauty during a sad and lonely time.
Symbolism is a technique used by all writers, and The Scarlet Letter is no exception. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is full of symbolism. Actually Hawthorne is one of the most prolific symbolist in American literature. Characters, events, relationships, feelings, and even weather are part of or are symbolism. Pearl is a complicated symbol of an act of love and passion. This child is not meant to be a realistic character but rather a symbol of Hester’s sin, blessing and scarlet letter. Pearl is the scarlet letter, a blessing and curse, and the love and passion of a dangerous relationship.
In The Scarlet Letter, Pearl is a very important character and she symbolizes a lot. Pearl is also very smart. She figures out before many of the adults in the town, that Dimmesdale is her father. Pearl also has a big imagination. She when she plays alone, she can turn anything as simple as a stick or a rock into something aminated, and something she play with. This way of playing is very different from the way the other Puritan children played. Some of the townspeople called this witchcraft, and she was called witch-baby. Pearl was also very different from the other Puritan children in the way she acted. She did not follow the rules set for most Puritan children, and she did not act like them at all. Pearl does not fit in with the other children. Pearl is a blessing to Hester.
She cannot be defined by just one label, but both. She is a mother to Pearl, who is a child born from adultery. She is a caregiver, seamstress, a lover, and a counselor, but the Puritanical society Hester lives in constantly reminds her that she is just a whore. By subscribing to this label, Hester loses her identity in a way. The effect of being an outsider due to the letter causes her to become a shell of her former self. Her beauty is lost as “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” (Hawthorne 515). Hester has stopped being a woman, which the narrator even confirms. She is able to reclaim her womanhood briefly when she takes off her cap and letter in an intimate moment with Arthur Dimmesdale. She is finally allowed to be beautiful since “the burden of shame and anguish [depart] from her spirit” (Hawthorne 536). However, when she has to put her hair back in the cap and fasten on the letter “her beauty, the warmth and richness of her womanhood, [depart], like fading sunshine; and a gray shadow seemed to fall across her” (Hawthorne 541). This is just another example of how women and their bodies are policed under this dichotomy. Yet men are free from the being either the Madonna or the whore because that separation is exclusive to women. Throughout the story, Hester’s torment is contrasted with the man whom Hester had an affair with, Arthur Dimmesdale. Despite Arthur revealing his part in their adultery, the townspeople do not condemn him. In the conclusion, the narrator reveals how the spectators refused to believe that Arthur’s “dying words, acknowledged, nor even remotely implied, any, the slightest connection on his part, with the guilt for which Hester Prynne had so lone worn the scarlet letter” (Hawthorne 566). Even the highly respectable witnesses
Within Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, antagonist Hester Prynne is subjected to the opinions and treatment of 17th century’s Massachusetts Bay Colony as a result of her sinful act of adultery. In the Puritan colony, it was important to be faithful, both to thine spouse, and most importantly, to God. Hester’s adultery issued her public ridicule and shunning, and a physical reminder to be forever worn; an embroidered ‘A’ placed upon her bosom. The symbol served to alert all of her faithless act, “It had the affect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity and enclosing her in a sphere by herself” (page 74). Throughout the novel, Hester’s treatment is obvious, and she makes many efforts to not let her choice, and her illegitimate child Pearl, define her. She vows to never reveal the name of Pearl’s father, however it is later revealed that he is the ever-so-respected town Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester is more than aware of her exclusion from the groups of the colony, even though she was working to rebuild her name by working and keeping busy, “In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it. Every gesture, every word, and even the silence of those with whom she came in contact, implied, and often expressed, that she was banished, and as much alone as if she had inhabited another sphere, or communicated with the common nature by other organs than the rest of human kind” (page 108). The judgmental community that Hester is a part of, ceases to affect her actions. She refuses to leave, and raises her daughter the best that she can- with love, respect, without revealing to Pearl what makes her different. The society sees Hester as corrupt, but does not call Pearl the same. Pearl’s name even represents purity, something she definitely was not born of. However, Pearl is able to grow up as normal as possible, though not a lot is said about her life and she does act a bit
The scarlet letter begins its role as a symbol in the novel by bearing a penal meaning, as a punishment for an adulterer. The scarlet letter initially manifested itself as the embodiment of sin. If the sacred command, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” did not exist the rest of Hester’s existence would completely change and the sin would disappear. But alas, for Hester the strict puritan community forces her to wear the scarlet letter. Consequently, she must bear with her the association between the ornate fabric has:
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.
In committing adultery, Hester caused the community to shun and ridicule her. “So that both men and women, who had been acquainted with Hester Prynne, were now impressed as if they beheld her for the first time, was that Scarlet Letter… It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity and inclosing her by herself” (51). This quote is stating because of the Scarlet A, Hester is alienated from the rest of the community. The Scarlet A separates Hester from everyone else, even her child Pearl. It stands out because it is colorful and this convoys that Hester is a sinner because in the Puritan religion it is believed that colorful clothing is only to be worn by the Lord. If you follow the Puritan faith, you have ti wear dark and dreary clothing. Therefore, wearing a Scarlet A on her bosom instantly makes her different than everyone else in the community and causes everyone who sees it instantly know she is different from everyone else. The Scarlet A written on Hester’s bosom alienates her from the
In The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne tells the story of Hester Prynne, a puritan woman living in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the year 1642. She lived in a community where religion and law were almost inseparable. She is known for committing an adulterous crime that is punishable by both religion and law. After moving to Boston from England without her husband, Hester engaged in an affair and had a child named Pearl. After refusing to reveal the father of her child, Reverend Dimmesdale, she is sentenced to wear a mark of her crime on her clothing for the rest of her life. Her husband, Roger Chillingworth, finally comes to Boston, seeking vengeance against Dimmesdale. Although most of the town forgives Hester for her sin, Hawthorne suggest
At the same time Chillingworth travels across sea, Hester gives birth to her daughter, revealing to the community that she had an affair. Hester constantly endures the ignominy of the public by wearing an “A” on her bosom for the rest of her life. She withdraws herself from society by moving to a remote cottage on the edge of the forest. They also excommunicate her from the church and do not allow her daughter, Pearl, to attend school. Despite these obstacles, Hester and Pearl learn to thrive. She continues to hold onto her regrets; however, her personality flourishes. Hawthorne portrays Hester as a strong individual, who even alters the stigma surrounding her. The women of the town eventually see her positive attitude, and they begin to interpret the scarlet letter differently: “Such helpfulness was found in her, - so much power to do, and power to sympathize, - that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength” (151). Their interpretation of the letter shifts, and although Hester becomes an outcast of the community, she embraces her sin and learns to live with it. Her determination to continue to help others express her growth from her mistakes. Hester allows herself to prosper because she has no secrets or guilt holding her back
The book was written during the time when feminist rights and values were not established and considered in the society. Hawthorne’s work of fiction about a feminine representing feminism culture and importance in the society attempts to highlight the equality and justice that much exist in a society. In this story, we get an exclusive view of women, love, sins and how Hester turns her punishment into power. Unlike those Puritan women in the community, Hester Prynne follows what she wishes even against the strict Puritan beliefs and norms.