In the “Scarlet Letter,” Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays hypocrisy of the Puritan society, where the protagonist Hester Prynne face many consequences of her actions and the how she tries to redeem herself to the society. During the seventeenth puritans believe that it is their mission to punish the ones who do not follow God’s word and it is their job to stop those from sinning. Therefore, the hypercritical puritan society punishes Hester harshly for committing adultery, but in Hester’s mind, she believes that what she did was not a sin but acts of love for her man. Eventually, she redeems herself by turning her crime into an advantage to help those in need, yet the Puritan society still view her as a “naughty bagger.” (Hawthorne 78)
Hester is judged too harshly for her mistake in this novel. “[F]or the remainder of her natural life she is to wear a mark of shame of shame on her bosom” (Hawthorne 59). The townspeople punish her by humiliation. She received almost no sympathy from her fellow puritans.
Due to this, Hester feels as though her punishment isn’t rightful as she never tried to corrupt society or hurt others with her sin. In order to show the Puritans that one should be forgiven for their sins if they were a pious person before committing them, Hester tries her best to show that she is still a good person. Even when the poor citizens of Boston reject her aid, Hester still provides the unfortunate with clothing and food. Even when the people, for whom she sews clothing for, slyly and directly insult her, Hester “... had schooled herself long and well” so that she “never responds to [their] attacks” (Hawthorne, 127). As a result of her persistent efforts and her resolve to help
Individuality vs. Conformity Nathaniel Hawthorne has one objective throughout The Scarlet Letter: force the readers to fully comprehend how the themes of the book directly relate to Puritanical society. One of his most evident themes is individuality vs. conformity, and he make the distinction between the two abundantly clear through his extensive use of symbolism, imagery, and diction. He is able to illustrate the dichotomy between the two while still accurately portraying Puritanical life. Puritanism is a form of Christianity that was created by a group of reformed Protestants whose ultimate goal was to purify the Church of England from all Roman Catholic practices. The Puritan society was known to be both harsh and strict; Hawthorne
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.
In the Scarlet Letter Hester Prynne was a character of high integrity. She lived by her own values and merits no matter what the consequence, and refused to give in to the abundance of temptations that were presented to her. The scarlet letter also provided lessons that Hester needed to learn in order to continue her development as a person. Men living by Dimmesdale’s standard, hiding the fact they have sinned and having to be pushed to the edge to confess, feel integrity takes a back seat to getting what you yearn for. For them, their moral code is only a guide, seldom
How the Scarlet Letter Transforms Hester In The Scarlet Letter, when Hester is first brought out on the scaffold to by publically shamed for her ignominy, Arthur Dimmesdale pleads with her to name him as her fellow sinner so that he will not have to reveal himself when he exclaims, "Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life.” Hester refuses him and Dimmesdale goes unnamed and unpunished until the very end of the story. While Dimmesdale refuses to accept responsibility for his sin, Hester embraces the shame of the community. It is this difference which causes Dimmesdale enormous amounts of guilt and pain while Hester in able to find peace with herself and with her situation.
Because even her name conjures up many conflicting thoughts, the true nature of Hester Prynne from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is heavily debated among critics. Mark Van Doren and D.H. Lawrence both assert their conflicting perspectives with a multitude of convincing devices, but D.H. Lawrence more effectively portrays Hester Prynne as an enemy through the use of thought-provoking allusions, critical diction and repetition, and an unconventional syntax in his essay, On Hester Prynne. Hester Prynne’s iniquity is foremost illustrated by Lawrence’s use of several biblical allusions. Although Hester shows benevolence throughout the novel and came to be respected in society, Lawrence asserts that this whole persona is a lie.
The townspeople “[began] to look upon the scarlet letter as a token, not of that one sin, for which she had borne so long and dreary a penance, but of her many good deeds since.” This quote exemplifies how sin is not a death sentence for Hester. Through hard work and charity it allowed the rigid Puritan society to see her as something different, and as someone who would not let society define who she was. Hester, thus, was not only able to change herself, but also the image in which society viewed her by working hard to benefit the public. Likewise, the scarlet letter which was supposed to represent sin was instead “fantastically embroidered with gold thread, upon her bosom.”
“The child’s own nature had been born amiss, —the effluence of her mother’s lawless passion, —and often impelled Hester to ask, in bitterness of heart, whether it were for ill or good that the poor little creature had been born at all” (Hawthorne, 541). This shows how much she has internalized the judgment of her peers. In many other chapters, Hester perceives Pearl as a positive outcome of her sin, but in this particular quotation, Hester is questioning if it was even worth it at all. These dark thoughts and feelings continue in this chapter when Hester contemplates
In the book The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays the transgressions of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale and the consequences of adultery and revenge. Roger Chillingworth, a physician and the secret spouse of Hester, torments Dimmesdale to his death. There is a substantial amount of evidence that Chillingworth’s sin is greater than the minister’s; but in reality, Dimmesdale has committed the greater sin.
The Scarlet Letter In the book The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester makes the right decision to remain in the town because by doing so she serves an example of why Puritan rationale is defective, and the town is where Dimmesdale lives. Puritan logic is fallible because Hester is accused of her sin; meanwhile, others in the town are also guilty of sin. For example, when Hester is exiting the jail to begin her ignominy, the town gossips brand her with denunciative labels, such as “naughty baggage” and “brazen hussy.” Hester lives in seclusion, and “a small vacant area” is always around her that no one is inclined to enter.
Hester Prynne was an example of sin, guilt, and redemption. Hawthorne uses bible passages as examples. The consequences for our sins are determined by God and where we will go. Hester’s punishment is wearing the letter, ‘A’ on her breast. " God, as a direct consequence of the sin which man thus punished, had given her a lovely child, whose place was on that same dishonoured bosom, to connect her parent for ever with the race and descent of mortals, and to be finally a blessed soul in heaven!"- (pg 55).
Feminism is the philosophy advocating equal political, economic, and social rights for women. The idea of feminism was not at all prevalent during the 1850s when Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter was published. In spite of this, Hawthorne wrote one of the most influential feminist novels of his time: The Scarlet Letter. This novel was hailed as an important feminist novel because of the main character: Hester Prynne. Hester Prynne is the very embodiment of feminism because of her refusal to adhere to the societal norms, her independence in thought, and how the view of the society around her changes through the novel.