Hester Prynne's Isolation In The Scarlett Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

980 Words4 Pages

Alienation has been present in society whether fiction or reality, past or present. Both characters and people suffer from the isolation they face. Only those who manage to push through and persevere can truly grow and stand against the society that has shunned them. The romance novel The Scarlet Letter tells a tale set in a puritanical society during the mid seventeenth century, centered around the main character Hester Prynne. Hawthorne writes about Hester’s alienation from society subsequent to her affair, which produced an illegitimate child. Hawthorne uses this isolation in order to show her perseverance against the strict rules of Puritan society and the cruelty she faces along with her punishment, ultimately illustrating the importance …show more content…

This sin is seen as an act of rebellion against the society that she lives in and she is quickly punished for stepping out of line. The first part of Hester’s punishment is being forced to stand upon the scaffold in the center of town with her infant daughter, giving the townsfolk an opportunity to critique her and gossip. At this moment, Hawthorne compares her to “...the image of Divine Maternity…something which should remind him, indeed, but only by contrast, of that sacred image of sinless motherhood, whose infant was to redeem the world. Here, there was the taint of deepest sin in the most sacred quality of human life, working such effect, that the world was only the darker for this woman’s beauty, and the more lost for the infant that she had borne” (Hawthorne 55). This comparison to the Virgin Mary is a sort of foreshadowing of Hester’s future, as she is turned away and shunned just like Mary is before the birth of christ. In a society so centered on religion and purity, they are guilty of turning away a woman in need of help. Instead of supporting Hester or showing her any sort of kindness, accepting her with no judgment or offering help, she is left on her own to raise Pearl. She even receives no support whatsoever from Pearl’s father, the other “guilty” party involved in her creation. Hester ultimately makes her own money in order to keep her and her child afloat, …show more content…

As a single mother, they did not fit the stereotypical family unit you could find during that time period. Pearl could not walk the streets with both parents or bask in her father’s affection, as his identity had to remain hidden so he would not lose respect in the community. She could even be considered one of the physical reminders of Hester’s sin, yet she loved her child and refused to give her up. When threatened with the aspect of having her child taken from her, she yells at the men that “God gave me the child…He gave her, in requital of all things else, which ye had taken from me…She is my happiness! She is my torture, nonetheless! Pearl keeps me here in life! Pearl punishes me too! See ye not, she is the scarlet letter, only capable of being loved, and so endowed with a million-fold he power of retribution for my sin? Ye shall not take her! I will die first!” (Hawthorne 105). Instead of giving away this child, this second scarlet letter she carries, Hester pleads and even threatens the men that pose the idea of taking her child away to be raised by another. Her life could only be easier without another mouth to feed, another body to clothe, the physical embodiment and reminder of her sin following at her heels, yet she loses all composure at the thought of losing her child. She doesn’t fear nor demand obedience from her child like other parents of that time would, she

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