Essay about Scarlet letter chapter 5

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Chapter Five: Hester at Her Needle
Summary
Hester is released from prison and finds a cottage in the woods, near the outskirts of the city, to set up her new life. Hawthorne comments on the fact that she does not avail herself of the opportunity to escape to a new life without shame in some other city. He remarks that often people are irresistibly drawn to live near the place where a great has occurred. He further comments that even if that is not the reason, Hester may have been inclined to remain in Boston because her secret lover still lived there.
Hester's skill at needlework, earlier shown in the fine way that she displayed the scarlet letter, allows her to maintain a fairly stable lifestyle. However, her reputation as an outcast
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Whereas at first it represented Hester's adultery and also her needlework skills, it now takes on two more meanings. Foremost, the letter begins to represent the hidden shame of the community. Thus preachers will stop in the street and give sermons when they see Hester. The letter therefore becomes an example of crime and acts a deterrent for others in the community.
However, Hawthorne indicates that Hester is now able to see when other people sympathize with her. Thus the letter serves as a gateway into other people's secret crimes, and acts as a focal point for the shame of the entire community.. The letter can thus also be interpreted as a symbol of shame shared by everyone, rather than by Hester alone.
The treatment of Hester almost reaches a low point in this chapter. She is cut off socially in the sense that she has no friends and lives in an isolated cottage. In addition, Hester becomes an outcast which even the children mock, causing her more pain. Hawthorne indicates that even though Hester spends time helping to make clothes for the poor, they treat her badly in spite of her good intentions.
Her choice of habitation is crucial to the symbolism within the novel. The forest represents love, or the wilderness where the strict morals of the Puritan community cannot apply. Thus, when Hester makes her home on the outskirts of the city, directly on the edge of the woods, she is putting herself in a place of limbo between the moral and the immoral universes.

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