Hester Prynne In D. H. Lawrence's Essay

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D.H. Lawrence criticizes Nathaniel Hawthorne’s character in The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne, in his essay, “On the Scarlet Letter.” Though Hawthorne praises Hester, Lawrence believes that Hester does not deserve any praise. D.H. Lawrence claims that Hester is at fault for her own sins and the tragedies in The Scarlet Letter. He utilizes terse syntax, mocking tone, and biblical allusions throughout his critical essay to strengthen his argument that Hester is dishonorable. From the start of his essay, Lawrence writes with choppy syntax to specifically target and criticize Hester’s sin, deriding Hawthorne’s opinion that Hester is praiseworthy. This formatting figuratively and literally resembles bullets, which attack Hester Prynne for her sins. He uses brusque alliterations to describe Hester as “Adulteress. Alpha. Abel, Adam” (Lawrence). Lawrence chose these particular words to shoot Hester down with because they each have a negative connotation. These concise comments not only…show more content…
Lawrence utilizes several allusions, biblical ones being the most prominent, to effectively compare and clarify Hester’s characterization to other recognizable figures. Hester is ironically referred to as “Abel” from the Bible, where he was killed by his brother, Cain (Lawrence). In this allusion, Lawrence does not truly believe that Hester is like Abel. Rather, he is in disbelief of Hawthorne’s views that Hester is a victim like Abel when in actuality she is not. Furthermore, Lawrence portrays Hester to be “another Magdalen” for their similarity of sinful nature (Lawrence). Magdalen is a biblical figure who is rejected and punished by society as a result of being a prostitute. Here, Lawrence contends that Hester, like Magdalen, should not be accepted in society and instead be punished according to Puritan rules. These allusions contrast biblical figures to Hester, and allow Lawrence to impactfully make his point clear that Hester is not
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