Hester Prynne In Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter

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Sal Hughes
English III H
Salvation Through Suffering
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, the Puritan community exiles Hester Prynne for her adulterous actions, which, although they are sinful, ultimately lead to the betterment of Hester’s spirit and character through her time as an outcast. When Hester is sent to live in isolation away from the rest of the community, she is able to reflect upon her sinful actions, the consequences of which the scarlet letter on her breast constantly reminds her. Pearl is also a constant reminder to Hester of her evildoings, because Pearl is the direct result of Hester’s sinful relationship. Hawthorne portrays Pearl as the scarlet letter personified, as Reverend Dimmesdale declares, “Hath she
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Initially, the letter A stands for the word “adulteress” and the sin of adultery. The letter is seen as a sign of the great evil for which Hester has been exiled from her home in the Puritan community. Later on, the people start to take notice of all the kind works that Hester does and the comfort she brings to those who are troubled or sick. A number people no longer view the scarlet letter as a brand of sin but “refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able” (150). Even though the Puritan community had exiled Hester, she was able, through her goodness, to turn their scorn into a sense of reverence and almost love, because as Hawthorne says, “Hatred, by a gradual and quiet process, will even be transformed to love, unless the change be impeded by a continually new irritation of the original feeling of hostility” (149). By the end of her life, the Puritan community views Hester’s scarlet letter with awe because through the alienation that it sentenced her to, she becomes stronger in her character and spirit. The scarlet letter invokes feelings of reverence because of the woman who wears
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