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The Irrepressible Nature of Fear as Seen in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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The idea of fear is a fairly simple concept, yet it carries the power to consume and control lives. Fears have stemmed from an inadvertent psychological response to situations deemed threating to one’s personal safety, but have evolved into a complex web of often illogical misconceptions which are able to cloud a person’s judgment and result in situations often worse than originally intended. Fears can be hard to quell, but it has been shown the best way to overcome fears is often to face them, as author James Baldwin asserted when he wrote, “To defend oneself against fear is simply to insure that one will, one day, be conquered by it; fears must be faced.” Baldwin makes strongly qualified statement, and his idea fears must be faced to…show more content…
Hester’s reaction to her situation exemplifies Baldwin’s idea of facing ones fear, and consequentially, the situation she was most fearful of turned out almost favorably.
By initially facing her fears of living in public with the shameful mark of the Scarlet Letter, Hester was able to accept this life and continue without the fear of public scorn and humiliation. Although the mark still played a heavy role Hester’s place in society, she was able to overcome its hindrance to an extent, and turn the letter into something positive in the eyes of the Puritans, as shown when the author writes, “Such helpfulness was found in her, —so much power to do, and power to sympathize, —that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne” (Hawthorne 158.) By accepting her fears initially and standing brave in the face of her apprehension over the Scarlet Letter, Hester was able to live a life free of the fear which could have plagued her, and instead became a positive force in society. Hester faced her fear of the town judging the Scarlet Letter and turned to a life of selflessness and
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