To defy a family, practice, or even a life style is an arduous challenge considering one’s willingness to give up their cultured protection from society and take responsibility as an individual. The strength in a person who believes that success comes from surviving the struggle of fighting the consequences that society imposes on defiance is prodigious. Not enough recognition is granted to those who risk their dignity exclusively for the freedom of personal choice and ability to live their life in the way in which they decide.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, characters Hester and Huckleberry Finn choose to defy their culture and upbringing in order for the betterment of their lives and as a result, determine their fate respectively. Due to the strong beliefs within the Puritan faith and a society who abides by its rules so closely, Hester is unable to manage its strictness and therefore, defies her culture.
Similarly, due to the loss of his mother and the poor treatment of his father, Huckleberry Finn decided to venture on his own to be and act as an individual by appearing civilized and recognizing the importance of education, as he was taught by Miss Watson and Widow Douglas. While they are eager for the freedom apart from their culture to exist, it is their perseverant strength that allows Hester and Huckleberry Finn to ultimately achieve independence. Due to the contrast between the character’s ideals and those determined by society’s general viewpoint, Hester and Huck’s eagerness to assume a dignified identity, is evident.
Hester originates from the Puritan culture in which strong religious beliefs and lifestyle and appearance expectations are prominent. Her decision to disobey her society by committing adultery, with Arthur Dimmesdale, results in their disbelief in her dedication to the principles of her people. In that way it is clear that Hester defies her culture and is forced to assume the responsibilities of an individual as a result. Similarly, Huck grows up in an environment in which he is not able to choose his beliefs.
His father, Pap, is not able to offer beneficial guidance to Huck, due to his alcohol addiction and twisted outlook on the ideal characteristics of a person. Pap’s opinion on the worthlessness of proper etiquette and his acceptance of an unkempt presence determines his lack of ability to guide and encourage Huck to live successfully. It is clear that both Hester and Huck disagree with what they have been cultured to believe by society and demonstrate an interest in a new independent way of living.
Following their realization that the power to defy exists within them, and the idea of individual identities, “endowed [them] with a new sense,” Hester and Huck are able to believe in the possibilities of a potential, successful, future (Hawthorne 83). Following the accusation of her Puritan rulebreaking, although she wants to be independent, Hester eventually takes much pride and comfort in her wearing of the scarlet letter, ultimately assuming possession of the identity.
Without the Puritan society’s judgement of its negative connotation, Hester considers its meaning to be a symbol of her history, which offers the sense that her existence is honorable. Likewise, since Hester chooses to keep the identity of the scarlet letter, even though she is no longer is forced to be connected with her defiance and has the opportunity of individuality, she displays her attachment to her morals. Hester is eager for a new identity that includes the history of her life in Massachusetts but lacks the shameful connotation and, eventually, the scarlet letter is able to offer that.
Contrastingly, Huck is ashamed of his forced identity, due to its negative connotation and tendency to initiate the remembrance of the unfortunate past with his father in his hometown, St. Petersburg, Missouri. When Huck is mistaken for Tom Sawyer, he does not bother to correct Tom’s family because of the positivity that he associates with their name. It becomes clear, then, that not only is Huck seeking independence, but also a future that he can be proud of and confident in its potential success.
Therefore, although the characters differ regarding their concluding opinions on their imposed identities, Hester and Huck share the desire for a new and reputable identity. Hester and Huck’s similar ability to overcome public judgements associated with their beliefs displays both their ambitious power to succeed yet a sense of guilt as a result of their defiance. People of the Massachusetts Bay Colony associate Hester’s wearing of the scarlet letter with shame and sin. At first, Hester is intimidated by their judgement of the symbol and is affected by their opinions due to their difference in treatment towards her because of its meaning.
Huck’s capability to become the person he desires to be is underestimated by his father and also unapproved by his guardians, Miss Watson and Widow Douglas. Although he chooses to trust in his ability to live as an individual, the history of Huck’s father’s abusive treatment towards him will be remembered for as long as he lives, therefore, constantly, Huck will associate remorse with the idea of a family or a home. Despite their unfortunate treatments in society because of their actions that evidence their beliefs, it is apparent that, “shame [… akes them] strong, but [teaches them] much amiss” (Hawthorne 196). Due to his need for immediate distance from his unpleasant past, it is clear that Huck’s choice of individuality is impulsive and, eventually, guilt is the result of his defiance. Despite his maturity in the fact that he recognizes the lack of safety in a household with his father, Huck also presents the immature expectations of his thirteen year-old age by making impulsive decisions like that made about his independence.
Fortunately, a positive outcome of a new identity and independence exists, and his impulsiveness does not affect the potential success of his self-judgement. Huck’s defiance of his culture includes him befriending Jim, as a white male helping an African slave during the early 1800s. Before the decision was made to do it, Huck contemplates the idea to defy because of its possible life-threatening results. He begins to feel guilty about helping a slave due to his biased knowledge from his initial culture, but, ironically, he believes he deserves punishment for an act that, in reality, is considered heroic.
Ultimately is it visible that Huck’s decision to defy, although impulsive, is what allows him to not only display a courageousness to succeed as an individual, but also contribute to the efforts in saving Jim’s life. Hester’s idea of defiance seems practical to her until her daughter, Pearl, is effected by her sin. Pearl is described as the scarlet letter, conclusively determining that she symbolizes a shameful sin which is at the fault of Hester, who expresses her guilt by cherishing her daughter and treating her with meaning.
When Hester takes off the scarlet letter, she loses the ability to connect with Pearl in which Pearl is unable to recognize her mother. This reveals that their relationship’s foundation is the identity of the scarlet letter, which is Pearl, this is to say that the scarlet letter allows Hester to distinguish her morals from her distractions and eventually strengthen their connection with one another. Due to the fact that the result is the discovery of a relationship, it is clear that Hester is motivated to succeed in order to maintain her new gift and rid her guilty feeling of the effects of her defiance.
Hence their strength to ignore the presence of society’s single-minded viewpoints, Huck and Hester demonstrate the ability to manipulate guilt to achieve success. Considering their will to accept the responsibilities that comprise an individual, given that they are assured a free soul compared to one attached to a strict way of living, Hester and Huck are able to determine their fate as individuality. Hester’s strength is evident as early as when her character is introduced during her time in prison.
Her goals are made clear, considering she defies her religion and faces the consequences. Huck, although not punished by a society, his maturity, determined when making the choice to disobey his father and guardians, is what allows him to be successful. Hester and Huck’s own realization that making the bold decision to choose independence over a fixed lifestyle results in the reality that they, “own [themselves… nd they] wouldn’t want anything more,” which not only strengthens the belief in their independent abilities, but also characterizes them as driven to reach their goal of success, in which they do (Twain 52). On account of the fact that she takes pride in her forced identity, Hester is able to posses the characteristics of an individual by choice, ultimately confirming her ability to determine her own fate. Dimmesdale and Pearl are crucial parts of Hester’s life and, therefore, have an effect on the way she reacts to society’s opinion on her scandal and how she becomes independent.
Not only does this support the idea of the power of free will but also demonstrates the intensity of the impact that Pearl and her father have on the order and occurrences in the events of Hester’s life. The guilt, discovery of a relationship and her individuality are the results of her defiance and because of these outcomes, and her will to sacrifice a reputation for a manageable lifestyle, Hester is able to reveal that defiance for a chance at individual success is a valuable risk.
Huck is able to accomplish independence also by taking a risk at the results of his defiance. When Huck chooses to leave home and decides to help Jim escape Miss Watson’s house, he is risking his life. reputation, and trust by his guardians, yet he realizes the importance of being and individual and developing a plan for his ideal future. Not only his choice to help Jim and decision to defy what he knows as his culture, but Jim’s existence and Huck’s unfortunate upbringing is what arranges for his success to be possible.
It can be argued that these, infact, are characteristics of fate, but also the choices leading up to Huck’s independence also impact the result. No matter if it is defined as fate or free will, Huck and Hester’s individuality is a product of their ability to determine their fate by their actions following their defiance. Despite Hester and Huck’s desire to lack association with the people in which they are involuntarily compelled to share their beliefs with, their driven acts of courage assure their capability to accomplish distinct individualism.
Their longing for a meaningful and self-ruled lifestyle, considering their disagreements with the beliefs of their initial culture, identifies their mature and courageous approach on controlling their fate. Hester and Huck are forced to endure a quality of life in which society offers unfair evaluations of their decisions, yet, they are able to focus on their intentions and demonstrate a power to achieve success. It is clear that both characters are insistent on the improvement of their lives and, given their offer of dedication towards the management of their individuality, they are successfully independent.
What makes defiance’s ethicality questionable is a person’s delayed feeling of guilt. Differentiating according to each individual, the idea of fate may be used to compensate for that feeling of bad conscience over the failure to reach an expectation. It is challenging to assess the reality of fate versus that of free will, yet it is apparent that, a person who has the mindset of one who has the power to determine their own fate, also possesses the ability to make that ideal exist.