Isolation In Scarlet Letter

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People that are isolated and alone are often changed by the crushing weight of their seclusion. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester’s sphere of isolation plays a pivotal role in giving Hester influence in Puritan society which Hawthorne creates by employing feminist ideals in the novel. Since Hester was branded with the Scarlet Letter, she has often struggled with being isolated from the rest of Puritan society. This isolation is often represented by the symbol of spheres in the novel. Additionally, Hester’s ignominy is often used to create her sense of isolation from her past self. Both Hester’s guilt and the Puritan’s unwillingness to interact with her creates the belief that she is someone who should be considered off…show more content…
These events include Dimmesdale’s own confession of sin when “Hester [stands] in that magic circle of ignominy, where the cunning cruelty of her sentence seemed to have fixed her for ever” (Hawthorne 178). These events create literal spheres of isolation around Hester because even the Puritans are able to pick up on the feelings of guilt and sin that become primary driving forces in the novel. Sometimes, the sphere of isolation Hester is subjected to is not only restricted to people. Even Pearl picks up on how even the sunshine will not touch her and of how Hester is still isolated from the true warmth of the sunshine. Pearl notices how “the sunshine does not love [Hester]” and how “it runs away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something on [her] bosom” (Hawthorne 134). The fact that even the sunshine will not touch Hester, as it refuses to enter the bubble her sin has created, shows the extent of her isolation from not only the Puritans and their society but even the world and nature itself. Even the sunshine, which is the epitome of all…show more content…
Hawthorne also uses the Puritans harsh treatment of Hester as a way to critique and insult their harsh ways of life. For example, had Hester’s husband been believed to be alive at the time of her sin, Hester would most likely have been put to death for her sin. These kinds of harsh punishments shine a light on the injustices imposed on women in that time period. One Puritan went so far as to comment that “[Hester] has brought shame upon [them] all, and ought to die” and even argued that “[there is] law for it both in the Scripture and the statute-book” (Hawthorne 22). This overwhelming demand for Hester’s death simply because she fell in love after her husband was believed to be dead shows how harshly women, and Hester specifically, were forced into a sphere of isolation. It can be debated whether Hester would have received far better treatment had she been a man rather than a woman. Additionally, Hester’s isolation from the rest of Puritan society served to create feminist sentiments in Hester herself that would not have existed had she not been shut out and isolated due to her small sins. Hester began to philosophize on women’s hopeless positions in society which was something that was severely looked down on by the Puritans. Hester’s new attitude regarding women were so
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