11 March 2008
Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne and Feminism
“In Heaven’s own time, a new truth would be revealed, in order to establish the whole relation between man and woman on a surer ground of mutual happiness” (ch.24).The definition of feminism would be women are inherently equal to men and deserve equal rights and opportunities. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne is the key example for feminism in the novel. In Puritan times, women were thought of as lesser than men. Women’s purposes were to raise children and give them good morals and values. Women did not have jobs; they wore the plainest clothes, and sat quietly by their husbands’ sides. Passion and happiness were considered to be a …show more content…
Hester as a woman in a strict Puritan community takes all the blame, Dimmesdale as a man, does not get punished by man-made laws. “The Scarlet Letter remains entirely male-dominated, both in terms of its compromising population and its attitudes and assumptions” (Barlowe 2). It is male-dominated because the authority is run by males, and the wives have no say in any decisions, because they are believed to be weak, so men make all the decisions while women
Who would have guessed a sense of feminism would be located within a book published in 1850, over 100 years before the feminist movement? Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter gives a glimpse into an adulterous woman’s life in a strict Puritan town located in Boston. Her name is Hester Prynne and her triumphs and tribulations are held within the novel. The reader gains an emotional connection to Hester and wants her to be happy. Support for an independent and shamed woman was controversial but may have helped spark a need for equality within the readers then and even now.
The Scarlet Letter can easily be seen as an early feminist piece of work. Nathaniel Hawthorne created a story that exemplifies Hester as a strong female character living with her choices, whether they were good or bad, and also as the protagonist. He also presents the daughter of Hester, Pearl, as an intelligent female, especially for her age. He goes on to prove man as imperfect through both the characters of Dimmesdale and of Chillingworth. With the situation that all the characters face, Hawthorne establishes the female as the triumphant one, accomplishing something that, during Nathaniel Hawthorne’s time, authors did not attempt.
The Scarlet Letter Introduction The Scarlet Letter is a classic tale of sin, punishment, and revenge. It was written in 1850 by the famous American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. It documents the lives of three tragic characters, each of whom suffer greatly because of his or her sins. Shot Plot The story begins with Hester Prynne, a resident of a small Puritan community, being led from the town jailhouse to a public scaffold where she must stand for three hours as punishment for adultery. She must also wear a scarlet A on her dress for the rest of her life as part of her punishment. As she is led to the scaffold, many of the women in the crowd complain that
A feminist is defined in the British Dictionary as a person who advocates equal rights for women. However incredulous it may sound, women had to fight for rights for equality in things such as politics, economics, and their personal affairs. If the revolutionary feminist concepts were surfacing in the time of Nathaniel Hawthorne, circa 1850, then how was it that he was inspired to write Hester’s character? However,one consideration may be that it was written unintentionally with a feministic tone. This novel stands for the main ideas that gave feminism its momentum: gender equality and love for oneself as a woman. Hawthorne displays Hester as a free woman in the ending of the book, and also deems her and Dimmesdale as equals by having them receive identical markers on their tombstones. The Scarlet Letter epitomizes the strength of women while also providing as an indicator for early feminism, as it’s profound perceptions were not something yet established in this earlier time period. The Scarlet Letter is indubitably a feminist piece of literature.The three main characters work off of one another; Hester is strong while Dimmesdale is feeble and Chillingworth is corrupt; She effortlessly conquers her sin and continues with her new life, while Dimmesdale cannot admit his sins, and Chillingworth seeks revenge on Dimmesdale.
Yes, I consider The Scarlet Letter is a work of feminist literature. During the time of Hawthorne, the writings of his opinions for the womens were very forward and powerful. The novel has discovered the typical lessons on the themes of feminist by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850. In The Scarlet Letter, the main heroine Haster Prynne and Pearl as her daughter are considered the two main prominent characters. So, the knowledge about them is persuaded the early feminist considering the heroines in the writing of The Scarlet Letter. The narrator has established the work opposing a feminist central character. It describes Haster’s sin and love that has given a view of woman’s unique.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne was written in 1849. This novel won him much fame and a good reputation as a writer. In writing The Scarlet Letter, Hawethorne was creating a form of fiction he called the psychological romance. A psychological romance is a story that contains all of the conventional trappings of a typical romance, but deeply portrays humans in conflict with themselves. The Scarlet Letter won Hawthorne great critical acclaim, and even today the book remains on the best seller list. The Scarlet Letter is so popular maybe because generations of readers can interpret it and see subtle meanings that somewhat reflect their own lives. Each of us, has
"Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for woman everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie" (Steinem). This quote was best for the topic because writing on how the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is trying to secretly tell us how feminism works. The quote breaks down on how feminists want people to view women and to ensure that everyone gets treated the same no matter the gender. People think that Gloria Steinem wanted God to tell people to become leaders instead of followers, like she wanted people to step up. She says it's about creating something new and if people instead of "trying" to help they create it. Feminism was never about making women superior to men but to have equal rights as men. The Scarlet Letter is a book written by a male but critics say it's a work of feminism. People say it's a work of feminism because of many aspects such as Hester's strong character, she raises her daughter without a father, and doesn't let the townspeople bring her down.
The setting of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet letter” is crucial to the understanding of the event that takes place in the story. The setting of the story is in Salem, Massachusetts during the Puritan era. During the Puritan era, adultery was taken as a very serious sin, and this is what Hester and Dimmesdale committ with each other. Because of the sin, their lives change, Hester has to walk around in public with a Scarlet Letter “A” which stands for adultery, and she is constantly being tortured and is thought of as less than a person. Dimmesdale walks around with his sin kept as secret, because he never admits his sin, his mental state is changing, and the sin degrades his well-being. Chillingworth
From the time before Christ, to the Swinging Sixties, scandal has taken hold of our society. Throughout the ages, the way in which the world handles cases of adultery and the role of women in different cultures have been altered. Women were thought to be goddesses, slaves of marriage, baby bearers, housewives, and sex symbols. Infidelity meant death, evil, embarrassment, branding, secrecy, and divorce. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, an intelligent woman gives birth to a child out of wedlock and is publicly shamed whilst the adulterator himself is kept a secret for a large span in the story. On the contrary, Edith Wharton explores the hushed scandals taking place in old New York society throughout
Written in 1850, The Scarlet Letter stood as a very progressive book. With new ideas about women, main characters’ stories intertwined, and many different themes, The Scarlet Letter remains today as a extremely popular novel about 17th century Boston, Massachusetts. Not only was the 19th century a time for the abolition of slavery movement but it was also the beginning of the first wave of feminism. Women such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucretia Mott catalyzed the women’s rights movement. These prominent women believed that a woman’s role was no longer in the house and that women should be afforded the same opportunity as men. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s sympathy for women is evident in a feminist reading of his novel
Women back then didn’t have as much rights as men had , for example in the story “The Scarlet Letter” it talks about a girl named Hester Prynne that was sentenced for adultery and was in prisoned . Another example is the story “The Declaration Of Independence” it talks about “All men are created equal.” and “All men have basic human rights given to them by God.” but never mentioned women about their rights because women didn’t received any rights till later on .
In the stories of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, the antagonist characters display parallel story lines through their searches for the enemy. Roger Chillingworth, the former husband of Hester Prynne and the antagonist of The Scarlet Letter, works against his wife in order to find her untold second lover. Frankenstein is a contrasting story in which an unnamed monster is the antagonist towards his human creator, Dr. Frankenstein. Yet despite quite different story lines, the two characters possess traits that exibit parallels between them. In the novel The Scarlet Letter, Roger Chillingworth displays the startling passionate characteristics of an unwavering drive to seek out his foe, madness as his focus on his search takes over his entire being, and terrible anguish when his task is unexpectedly over, all of which are reflected in the daemon created at the hand of Dr. Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley 's novel Frankenstein.
Critics generally agree Hawthorne uses the effects of the scarlet letter to reveal the atrocities of the patriarchy and masculine hegemony. The patriarchal forces women to carry the burden of an action despite the entity of the original sinners. In The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne takes the responsibilities and consequences of adultery, even though Dimmesdale should have equal, if not more, punishment. When Hester stands in front of a jury and endures the tremendous hatred from the individuals within the audience who believe Hester “has brought shame” to society, she declares,“Ye cannot take it off, and would that I might endure his agony, as well as mine!” (Hawthorne 39, 49). Hawthorne reveals how society isolates and condemns women for the actions and results of men. If the women do not hold the accountability of all sin, they experience ignominy from society; if they do hold accountability of all sin, they still experience ignominy. The patriarchy enforces the idea that women should hold all responsibilities for all of men’s actions. Advancing Hawthorne's argument, critic Jane Swisshelm reveals the treatment of women as they endure ignominy: “[Hester] was the moral leper whom none might dare to touch - the blazing emblem of the virtuous indignation of an entire community” (Swisshelm 273). So long women exist, the consequences of the world’s
Nathaniel Hawthorne highlights the habitual societal conflict of surfacing gender equality ideology throughout The Scarlet Letter. The typical female role in society during the mid-seventeenth century was to be a caretaker. Hester Prynne’s sentence for breaking this stereotype through adultery is to wear a large, red letter A on her chest. Hawthorne uses Hester’s character to add characteristics of early feminism. For example, Hester not only takes on the so called male and female role put in place by society at some point throughout the story, but she also challenges societal views of women. To fully understand the situation women were going through, you must be familiar with the historical context. The story takes place in a Puritan