The Character of Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter Essay

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The Character of Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter

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.

In the beginning of the novel, the reader is presented with a physical appearance of Hester that is pleasing to the visual eye. It is Hawthorne describes his heroine of the book by
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The changes of appearance fail to stop there, however, and in the latter portion of the book, Hester is reunited with her true love. Hawthorne writes that "her sex, her youth…richness of beauty, came back" (170) after this reunion, and Hester, once again, returns to her original form.

The emotions of Hester also fail to obtain a true form during the course of the novel, and a warm, passionate, charming, and tender Hester is eventually molded into a cold, overly thoughtful, and plain woman. Examples of this in the text include "much of marble coldness of Hester's impression…from passion and feeling to thought" (141) and "Hester Prynne whose heart had lost a regular and healthy throb" (143). Both of these quotes provide clear citations to the apparent change in Hester, and are just more evidence of the pain that the scarlet letter has indirectly brought about.

The scarlet letter could also be looked as a quality of Hester's character. This quality defined the views of the townspeople regarding Hester, and in time also changed in meaning. It was at the beginning of the book that the letter embroidered on her bosom only stood for adultery, and the common consensus of the people, in respects to Hester's actions, was "this woman has shamed us all and ought to die" (50). In time, and through the actions of Hester Prynne, the letter 'A' upon her chest was understood to be something different, and "many people refused to interpret the
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