StudyBoss » The novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne was an objective description of the life of Hester Prynne, an adultress. The novel does not go into specific details of the thoughts of the woman except to describe the mien of her character. Throughout the novel she faces humiliation by the other people of Boston, but never loses her sense of pride. Hester Prynne suffers enormousely from the shame of her public disgrace and from the isolation of her punishment; however, she retains her self-respect and survives her punishment with dignity, race, and ever-growing strength of character.

From the moment Hester Prynne is introduced into the plot of The Scar- let Letter in chapter 2, “The Marketplace”, the reader realizes how prideful she is. As an adultress, she is forced to endure ignominy by her peers and is doomed to have the letter A bound to her heart. When standing on the scaffold as pun- ishment for her sins, she never truly falters. She hold a three month old infant in her arms and attempts to cover her brand with the child. However, she realizes that the baby symbolizes her sin just as much as the letter, and decides it’s pointless.

Throughout many years of her life, Hester was considered an outcast by the people of her town. These repercussions are felt by her daughter, Pearl, as well, because she has no friends. They don’t associate with others and some instances occurred when Puritan children would throw rocks at the two. During this time, Hester refuses to make publicly known the name of her child’s father. To bear the weight of her punishment all alone made her even stronger. As her life progressed, Hester became less of an outcast in the public eye.

She was gifted at embroidery and was charitable to those less fortunate than she. (Although Hester was a talented seamstress, she did not make as much money as she could have because she was not allowed to sew wedding dresses. This is obviously because she had committed sins that were supposed to be confined to the sanctity of marriage. ) Seven years after she had stood on the scaffold as a riminal, her letter was thought by the people to mean “able” as opposed to “adultress”.

Some time after that the public changed their views of her again and she was thought of as “angel”. Even though she wanted to rid herself of the letter, she knew she couldn’t because she had to bear the consequences of her actions for the remainder of her life, or at the very least the rest of her life in Boston. In conclusion, Hester Prynne was a strong woman who possessed a great deal of integrity and strength. Her probity as manifested by the way she pro- jected herself, even when faced with public disgrace.

On the outside, it would seem as though the letter did nothing to hurt her pride. The reader doesn’t know what Hester felt internally, but he does know that she felt the brand of the letter deep in her heart, as if it had become a part of her. However, this did not affect how she carried herself. Hester Prynne always had a sense of pride, dignity, and self-respect that surrounded her being and told all who encountered her she was filled with probity.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
StudyBoss » The novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Throughout the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester’s experiences in and out of the Puritan society and the weight of the scarlet letter change her in many ways, including her level of confidence, her appearance and her outlook on the Puritan people, and the way she feels about the letter “A”. Due to the sin committed by Hester she became the outcast of the Puritan community. She was forced to begin a new life on her own with no support from anyone. The sudden vicissitudes in her life cause a great transformation in Hester.

In the beginning of the novel Hester shows a tremendous amount of confidence, which she is not afraid to show, but eventually she hides this boldness and yields to the torment of the Puritan people. When Hester is being led out of the jail by the town beadle “she repelled him, by an action marked with natural dignity and force of character, and stepped into the open air, as if by her own free will. ” (Pg 60) By stepping out of the jail like this Hester showed and amazing amount of courage, knowing that she was about to receive the peoples’ mockery.

While Hester displayed confidence here, later in the novel she doesn’t show that assurance as much, and receives the ridicule with embarrassment and broken heartedness. The people of the town “were accustomed to distill drops of bitterness into her heart” but “Hester had schooled herself long and well; she never responded to these attacks, save by a flush of crimson that rose irrepressibly over the pale cheek. ” (Pg 88) Hester emerged from the jail with strength but was forced to change, and hide this strength to get along the best she could and continue to support herself and her daughter.

Living outside of the Puritan society allowed Hester to change the way she saw the people of the town and the way she looked herself. Hester lived on the outskirts of town and was no longer a real part of the community, because of this she was able to see people from a different point of view. “The scarlet letter had endowed her with a new sense. She shuddered to believe that it gave her a sympathetic knowledge of the hidden sin in other hearts. ” (Pg 89) Also Hester’s appearance changed.

Living away from the Puritan society and the constant presence of the scarlet letter caused this. Hester was once a “young woman with a figure of perfect elegance and dark abundant hair and a face so beautiful. ” (Pg 60) The effect of the symbol caused “ all the light and graceful foliage of her character to whither up by this red-hot brand. ” (Pg 157) She changed form an attractive person to a harsh repulsive figure. At the end of the novel, Hester was no longer completely ashamed of her letter “A” but actually had some pride in wearing it.

The scarlet letter was given to Hester as a form of punishment for her sin and caused extreme embarrassment. “Continually did she fell the innumerable throbs of anguish that had been so convincingly contrived for her by the undying, the ever active sentence of the Puritan tribunal. ” (Pg 88) Though embarrassed, Hester still did good things and ended up wearing the letter with pride. “Such helpfulness was found in her that many people refused to interpret the scarlet “A” by its original signification.

They said that it meant “Able. Pg 156) Hester could go into town without people looking at her as though she were evil. Being branded with the scarlet letter allowed Hester to change in many ways, most of which led her to become a better person. The scarlet A permitted Hester to leave the conformity of the Puritan community and form her own perspectives and opinions. The larger idea presented to us by Hester’s transformation is that sometimes people that are perceives as being sinful or improper are really the better people overall.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Leave a Comment