Hester's Role In The Scarlet Letter

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The novel The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850, focuses on the life of a young woman named Hester Prynne, who is tried and convicted of adultery. In the beginning of the book, Hester is seen on the scaffold, clutching a baby. Throughout the first three chapters, the baby is mentioned, but not given a very prominent role. However, her character truly adds an inside look into the chapters. The first time the baby appears is in chapter two, when Hester is walking up to the scaffold. “…it seemed to be her first impulse to clasp the infant closely to her bosom; not so much by an impulse of motherly affection, as that she might thereby conceal a certain token, which was wrought…into her dress” (36 - 37). From the very beginning,…show more content…
Right before being led back into prison, Hester barely acknowledges her baby’s needs. “The infant… pierced the air with it’s wailings and screams; she strove to hush it, mechanically, but seemed scarcely to sympathize with it’s trouble” (48). Especially in this passage, Hester’s lack of sympathy towards the baby shows just how disturbed she really is by her situation. Instead of trying vigilantly to hush her baby, like most mothers would, her actions are “mechanical”. Her attempts to calm her baby are second hand and seemingly not as important as what is happening around her. In a way, in this quote, the baby’s actions reflect what Hester is feeling inside her own body. Multiple times in the chapter, she feels like she needs to “shriek” and “cast herself from the scaffold”, similarly to how the baby is crying…show more content…
“And my child must seek a heavenly father; she shall never know an earthly one!” (47). Although Hester did commit adultery and seems to be one of the more rebellious colonists, she is a religious woman and has strong faith. She firmly believes that God will be the baby’s father and she shall never know the true identity of her biological father. Hester is willing to raise the baby on her own, without the support of a male figure. In this time period, especially with the low standard of living and the even lower survival rate, being a single mother would be a very difficult job. This also means that she is determined to never confess the true nature of her lover, even if it means perhaps getting a more relaxed punishment. The baby’s role in this quote, even though it may seem less prominent, actually tells us a lot about Hester’s
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