The term “feminist” refers to a woman who always stays strong no matter what situation she is in. Women during the time period of The Scarlet Letter were considered frail and less important than men were. This novel would absolutely be a feminist novel because of its views and beliefs of the role of women in society. Nathaniel Hawthorne demonstrates the definition of feminism in the novel through the character of Hester Prynne, who is the embodiment of the word “feminist.” Although she may have been shown to be weak and vulnerable in the beginning of the novel, Hester displays strong characteristics as she carried the scarlet letter, helped out the poor people of her community, took care of her daughter Pearl on her own, and protected
In the Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne asserts that Puritan society judges an individual largely from their exterior. Hawthorne substantiates his argument by contrasting the interior emotions and exterior visages of several characters, particularly Hester Prynne, through the use of symbolism, contrasting diction, and juxtaposition. By the contradictory existence of Hester's marble exterior and her inner emotional turmoil, portrayed by the symbol of Pearl, Hawthorne’s purpose is to juxtapose the laws of Puritan society with the sentiments of nature. The author evokes an contemplative tone for the reader.
ANDREA SEABROOK: Hester Prynne is the protagonist of Nathaniel Hawthorne 's magnum opus "The Scarlet Letter." Any serious literary scholar will tell you that she is one of the first strong women in American literature and is still among the most important. She 's veiled(ph) and complex and deep. So much so, says Professor Jamie Barlowe of the University of Toledo, that her character is much bigger
Sin is something we are all guilty of, however some let their sin affect them negatively and never learn from their mistakes. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, tells the story of Hester Prynne who is found guilty of adultery. The Puritans of Boston force her to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her chest, symbolizing that she is an adulteress. Hester is married to Roger Chillingworth, a fact she hides. As a result of their sin, Hester and Dimmesdale have a child, Pearl who constantly reminds them of their immorality. The letter greatly changes Hester, and causes her to be publicly shamed and outcasted, yet also helped her grow closer to the society. The impact of the scarlet letter causes her to be disgraced by the society.
In the eyes of a Puritan the crime of adultery that Hester committed was severally punished. It didn’t matter that her husband wasn’t in her life at the time; they were still married and that was considered a sacred vow that you didn’t break. Even though Hester was willing to and endure her punishment in front of the whole town, she was still shunned for her sin. In the town’s folk opinion, wearing a scarlet letter "A" is not enough. They want physical and psychological pain and that is the only way her actions are justified to them.
Throughout The Scarlet Letter, the romantic purities and connotations of nature, being the embodiment of beauty and gracefulness, are best exemplified by Hester Prynne, who acts against the corrupt society through her embodiment of nature. Hester’s character is always described to be one pure of soul, though the letter she wears prevents her from being this character entirely. Enduring the shame of the letter, she tries her best to help the people of the town and the poor. She also possesses a motherly love so dear to her beloved Pearl who is also outcasted from the puritan society. Regardless of the good deeds she committed, she still struggles to be accepted by the community and attain purity due to her symbol of shame she is forced to wear upon her bosom. Through her exclusion and contrast to the society, she is described as the more graceful and refined being in comparison with the inhabitants of the puritan community.
Hester Prynne is forced to wear the scarlet letter for the rest of her life because of the one sin she has committed. As she stands on the scaffold in front of the whole town she is told “... And then and the after for the remained of her natural life, to wear a mark of shame upon her bosom.” (Hawthorne 59). This quote shows that hester is forever going to be guilty for the one sin she has committed with Dimmesdale. Hester will never be treated the same or looked at the same off because of the Scarlet A on her bosom. As the book goes on Hester moves into a cabin that is half in the forest and half in society and raised her daughter Pearl. She made clothes for a living and she decided to start making extra clothes for the poor. Hawthorne then explains how the poor don’t even have respect for Hester because of her scarlet letter “...she give of her little substance to every demand of poverty; even though the bitter-hearted pauper threw back a gibe in requital of the food…” ( Hawthorne 146). This proves that she is still being treated different because if her sin. She is getting treated so wrongly and this sometimes make her feel guilty for committing her sin. Although Hester can leave at anytime she plesases she decides to stay in this town because she believe she should be punished in the same town that she committed her sin. She also stays because of
Hawthorne's Hester Prynne is the underdog protagonist that the reader cannot help but want to succeed. She is flawed but her flaws are outshone by her good heart and spirit. This shamed and humiliated woman is the one the reader, with the help of Hawthorne’s descriptions, wants to support. This sinful woman, with a child from wedlock, a diabolical “husband”, and a secretive lover is the motivating force that drives the reader to continue on with The Scarlet Letter. The language, descriptions, and plot of The Scarlet Letter show that Hawthorne believes the reader should look past gender stereotypes because not everything is what is
In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne develops the dynamic characterization of Hester Prynne from a beautiful, innocent girl into a somber, hardened women to showcase the evils and hypocrisy of Puritan New England’s culture of shaming. Hawthorne employs rhetorical devices such as metaphor and juxtaposition to further develop the characterization and his critique of Puritan society. When initially describing Hester, Hawthorne emphasizes her incredible beauty, and juxtaposes this with the other ugly, judging Puritan women, adding to the hypocrisy of her being shamed for sinning. Hawthorne emphasizes the verbal assault on Hester by employing metaphor and imagery in its description. After the community shuns and shames Hester for years, Hawthorne uses metaphor again to show how Hester’s body and character changes for the worst, emphasizes the malice and evil of public shame.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is often renowned as his best work. The novel tells about the rigid ideas of 19th century Puritan New England through the story of Hester Prynne, Minister Dimmesdale, and Pearl. Hawthorne points out that the Puritans are often more ready to judge, punish, and damn someone than to forgive them. He is very critical of this idea, and goes against it by ending the novel with Hester Prynne becoming a respected individual that other women often look to for advice, and by changing the perception many people have of the Scarlet Letter from, “Adultery” to “Able”. Throughout the novel Hawthorne refutes the harsh ideals of the Puritans through the
In The Scarlet Letter Hester Prynne is more than a literary figure in a classic novel, she is known by some people to be one of the earliest American Hero’s. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne Hester commits adultery and has a child that she must care for all alone. She is forced to wear a powerful, attention grabbing “Scarlet A” on her chest while she must try to make a living to support her and her child, Pearl. Even though she must face all the harsh judgment and stares she does not allow her sin to stop her from living a successful life. She looks past the Letter as a symbol of sin and turns it into a sign of approval. Hester
In the novel, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the character Hester Prynne, as a representation of feminist views and perspectives. The Puritan society views Hester as a sinner and unable to receive forgiveness or grace; however, she overcomes her adversities and finds joy within her being. In general, critics agree that The Scarlet Letter exemplifies the definition of female empowerment. For example, critic Wang writes: “Although shamed and alienated from the rest of the community, Hester does not fall but becomes a miniature of a resistant ‘Feminist Angel’, a strong woman looking forward to the equality between men and women” (Wang ). Wang demonstrates how Hester approaches unfair circumstances with maturity and diligence. Furthermore, critic John Updike states: “Hester Prynne can be seen as Hawthorne's literary contemplation of what happens when women break cultural bounds and gain personal power” (Updike ). The novel defines the position of a feminist
Hester Prynne, a character within The Scarlet Letter, is a prime example of Hawthorne's common transformation of individuals within his books. These mutations involve the qualities and attributes of her physical appearance, feminine emotions, and reputation among the townspeople. Throughout the novel, the mentioned elements of Hester's character develop and change several times, providing the reader with better understanding of the influence that the scarlet letter and other characters have on her.
This ridicule has a trickle down effect on Hester as she too is banished from her own community for committing adultery. The comparison between Hester and Hawthorne defines the external struggle for the reader to fully understand the effect of opinions from society on them Although reluctant to allow Hester to leave prison, the members of the town suggest that her punishment be to wear a scarlet red letter A on her bosom, thereby allowing all to know of her crime. The scarlet letter “ was red-hot with infernal fire, ” (Hawthorne 81) and defined the state she was currently in, that being eternal hell. Though she was forced to marry an older man at a young age, her rebellion to have an affair is not seen as an internal struggle that she overcame; rather, it is merely seen as a woman who sinned, a woman who shall therefore endure the punishment for the sin, rather than a woman who was never given a say in what she wanted with her life. Time and again, Hester Prynne is seen defying society by allowing herself to stand out from societal norm just as the roses “with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner“ (Hawthorne) did. Instead, she returns to the community and is observed aiding those in need, all with seven year old Pearl by her side.
Mother Teresa once affirmed, "If you judge people, you have no time to love them." This statement rings true in the case of society who judges against Hester Prynne before she can express her nature. Throughout Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the people of Boston are torn between a law and their own morals as they grow to see the true character of the women they've condemned and show that it is possible for her to change when they’re given the chance to examine the truth.