She receives three punishments from the townspeople, who claim they will free her from her sin. The community orders Hester to go to jail, wear a scarlet letter on her chest, and stand on the town scaffold for hours. Hester wears her scarlet letter proudly on her chest, and endures much suffering because of her public ridicule. Hester is “kept by no restrictive clause of her condemnation within the limits of the Puritan settlement” after she was released from prison, but she chooses to stay (Hawthorne 71). Later, Hester’s child, Pearl, symbolizes the Puritan view of Hester.
The Scarlet Letter shows the church unaccepting of Hester and Pearl because of adultery. Finally, in The Scarlet Letter Hester realizes that all of her struggles are finally coming to ease. After the shamming has stopped, Hawthorne says, “Hester strong, calm, steadfast enduring spirit almost sank, at last on beholding this dark and grim countenance of inevitable doom…” (Hawthorne 241). In the end of The Scarlet Letter Hester has moved on along with the townspeople and she is finally being accepted in society.
She vows to never reveal the name of Pearl’s father, however it is later revealed that he is the ever-so-respected town Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester is more than aware of her exclusion from the groups of the colony, even though she was working to rebuild her name by working and keeping busy, “In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it. Every gesture, every word, and even the silence of those with whom she came in contact, implied, and often expressed, that she was banished, and as much alone as if she had inhabited another sphere, or communicated with the common nature by other organs than the rest of human kind” (page 108). The judgmental community that Hester is a part of, ceases to affect her actions. She refuses to leave, and raises her daughter the best that she can- with love, respect, without revealing to Pearl what makes her different.
Throughout the passage from The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses Hester’s baby, Pearl, to illuminate the theme of beauty in a dark place. Once released from prison, Hester, an adulterer, becomes a public spectacle. Through this hard time, Hester has her daughter Pearl to soothe her and to bring her strength and hope for a better future. By using vivid imagery and juxtaposition, Hawthorne depicts Pearl as Hester’s happiness, light, and beauty during a sad and lonely time. While in Prison, Hester is all alone and depressed.
In a traditional culture at the time, the female image was inferior to men in many different aspects. Women have an inferior intelligence compared to men, inferior role in society, and inferior status. Later on, women were respected more as wives and mothers. Women remained in homes, raising children, and “rescuing men’s souls and leading them to the holy paradise” (). In his writing, Nathaniel Hawthorne creates a new female-image, one that focuses on remaining a pure reputation.
Hester is accused of adultery, and is forced by the city magistrates to wear a scarlet letter A on her chest for the rest of her life. She is forced to wear the mark, living with the “pang of it … always in her heart.” (78) Although she initially tries to degrade the negative connotation of the scarlet letter by decorating it and covering it up, she grows to accept “the scarlet letter flaming on her breast” (118), and the letter only increases her strength. The letter, although not a physical punishment, affects her more on a social and emotional level, isolating her from society and drawing ridicule from townsfolk. Her isolation leads her to connect with only a limited few, including Mistress Hibbins, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth.
Hester’s character is formed and shown as she goes through great ignominy from wearing the scarlet letter A to having her the reminder of her sin by her side. Hester has promised both of these men not to share their secrets with the world and throughout the novel she stays true. Since she keeps the identity of her
She was an outcast to society and would never be accepted because she was considered the child of sin. Hawthorne says, “...whose place was on that same dishonored bosom,...” (Ch 6, 77), this shows that not only is the scarlet letter symbolic to the adultery, but Pearl is also a lasting symbol of Hester’s sin. Chapter 6, Pearl, is entirely dedicated to the child and it is in this chapter the Pearl states, “ “He did not send me!” cried she positively.
A Role Model that Transcends Time Hester Prynne changed dramatically throughout the course of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter. Initially she was viewed as the antagonist and was a destructive character to those around her. After being confined in her cottage with Pearl, she began to develop a sense of who she needed to become in order to efficiently raise Pearl. Hester’s ability to do what was necessary for her improvement made her into a respectable role model for women to shadow. Hester chose to isolate she and Pearl to create a wave of self-improvement. Because of Hester’s mysterious, seductive, and rebellious actions, she demonstrated the characteristics of a byronic hero.
Hester dislikes the fact that the “scarlet letter” may be perceived as a sign of weakness, and instead learns to be empowered by the “A”. Ultimately, Hester actively made a positive impact on the community and proceeds to raise pearl, her child, without any assistance from Roger or Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester exemplifies her independence through her ability to maintain financial stability while raising her daughter and working. Hester eventually morphs the public's view of the scarlet letter into something positive. The narrator says, “many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification.
Her isolation and the scarlet letter fastened to her bosom permitted her to look at the shortcomings of the society- as an outsider- that is typically overlooked by the civilians themselves. She discovers how women aren’t given power inside the community to think for themselves or make changes, and hence winds up stuck in the same mindset or beliefs. Due to the ideas shared by men, women begin to see themselves as inferior and are easily influenced in remaining silent. Unlike the other women in the Puritan community, Hester is depicted as a strong, unyielding lady- the “wild rosebush”-, who, despite being publicly shamed and mocked, helped the needy and disregarded others opinion of her. She isn’t stifled by the townspeople 's perspective of her, but rather is concerned about the way women are viewed upon, and feels that existence itself- is worthless for them.
Hester was forced to wear the scarlet A and “It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself,” (Hawthorne 51). Hester feels extremely isolated and alone when she wears the scarlet letter, as she knows it was not solely her in this sin. Dimmesdale uses Hester’s suffering as a reason to not confess by seeing the negative effects it has on her. Hawthorne shows that this makes the pain even worse for Hester, as she is experiencing the punishment of this sin alone. This also forces her to become a single mother and raise Pearl alone.
The Scarlet Letter was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in the 1800s, but the book is placed in the Puritan times of the 1600s. Hawthorne is an anti-transcendentalist, which means he thinks society is good and nature is evil and humans are naturally evil. Puritanism is a very strict religion in the 1600s. If you are a Puritan you are against all earthly pleasure and your life is hell on Earth. Hawthorne uses multiple symbols in The Scarlet Letter, symbolism is a literary device that uses symbols to represent ideas. In this novel, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the symbolic significance of the Scarlet Letter, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth to contribute to the theme of guilt.
Throughout the novel, Hester is fraught by the Puritan society and her suffering is an effect of how evil society is. Hester continues to believe that the crime she committed was not wrong and she should not be punished for it. Her desire to protect and love Dimmesdale, turn her into a stronger person and become a heroine in the book. Although society still views her as a “naughty baggage” (Hawthorne 73) and is punished for her wrongdoing, Hester never thought to take revenge on them, yet she gives everything she has to the unfortunate and leaves herself with very little. She continues to stay positive no matter what society has for her.
We are all sinners. Although one may try hard not to sin, all humans eventually succumb at some time or another to sin. While people may not able to avoid the fate which awaits them, the power of free will allows people to decide how they will respond to sin. While some may respond with guilt and regret, others may react with a sense of redemption and a renewed sense of responsibility.