In Nathaniel Hawthorne?s The Scarlet Letter, the Puritans constantly look down upon sinners like Hester Prynne, both literally and symbolically. The use of the three scaffold scenes throughout the course of the novel proved to be an effective method in proving this theory and showing how Puritan society differs from that of today?s.
This page describing her crime shows how Hester defies the Puritan belief system through rebellion because the crime of adultery is a serious sin in their religion, showing that she purposely disobeys the laws of their religion by having an affair. Hester Prynne also defies the Puritan belief system through the scene where she immerges from the jail cell and is seen in public with her wedlock child for the first time. Hawthorne describes the manner in which she immerges from the jail and how the town reacts, in the quote “Those who had before known her, and had expected to behold her dimmed and obscured by a disastrous cloud, were astonished, and even startled, to perceive how her beauty shone out, and made a halo of the misfortune and ignominy in which she had enveloped” (46). This quote shows Hester’s rebellion against the Puritan beliefs because, due to how serious her crime is seen in the Puritan community, the town members had expected her to show sorrow, shame, and weakness as she walked from the jail cell. But, instead she walks out with her head held high, ignoring their judgment, showing no shame and in the crime she committed, and disregarding the mannerisms the Puritan’s expected of her. Along with her rebellion, Hester Prynne defies the Puritan belief system
Hester Prynne was shamed in front of the Puritan community in multiple events. She is forced to stand on a scaffold for multiple hours as the town makes their remarks. When she released from jail, Hester was forced to wear the letter on her chest. “...that scarlet letter...it had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity... (Hawthorne 51). The letter causes whispers in the shadows of the society, spreading rumors across town. This ends up separating her from the people making her an outcast.
Hester’s appearance and role in both society and nature help to portray her as pure in contrast with the corrupt puritans. Nature is a symbol for all things beautiful and positive about the world, this is then added to by Hawthorne’s claim that society is corrupt and thus cannot be trusted. Due to Hester inhabiting a home outside of civilization and within nature, it allows for her character to be “lady-like” and “characterized by a
Hester Prynne, through the eyes of the Puritans, is an extreme sinner. She has gone against the Puritan ways by committing Adultery. The Puritans believed that Hester was a lost soul that could only be saved by sincere and thorough repentance. For this
The novel opens with the people of the town gathering outside the jailhouse with “grim rigidity” (Hawthorne 47) waiting for Hester to appear. As she proceeds to exit the jail, Hester encounters snide remarks from people around her. She describes leaving the jailhouse as agonizing: “Haughty as her demeanor was, she perchance underwent an agony from every footstep of those that thronged to see her, as if her heart had been flung in the street for them all to spurn and trample upon” (Hawthorne 52). Her society makes Hester feel inferior and unwelcome after she commits a sin, reflecting their lack of compassion and sympathy for each other. When she is given her punishment to wear the scarlet letter on her chest for as long as she lives, the townspeople react negatively and demand a harsher punishment. A woman in the crowd asserts “At the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynne’s forehead” (Hawthorne 49). Yet another yells, “This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die. Is there not law for it” (Hawthorne 49). In saying this, they allude to the idea that Hester should have faced a more severe punishment, preferably one that involved physical pain. From Hester’s treatment, it is clear that Puritans are “a grim and gloomy race, impatient with
From the beginning, we see that Hester Prynne is a young and beautiful woman who has brought a child into the world with an unknown father. She is punished by Puritan society by wearing the scarlet letter A on the bosom of her dress and standing on the scaffold for three hours. The scaffold is a painful task to bear; the townspeople gathered around to gossip and stare at Hester and her
The new Puritan society wanted to punish Hester Prynne horribly so that she would set an example of the consequences the others would receive if they committed a
The novel, “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a about people from the seventeenth century living under a strict society, where the system and all of its components were based on God (Puritan era). Hawthorne describes Hester, who is one of the main protagonist, by using liminal space through her daughter Pearl and through her actions. He uses it to describe Hester’s passion, sin, and her reason to stay in town. By not giving a great amount of information about her life, he reveals through her public humiliation and subsequent, isolated life in Puritan society that her character is quite remarkable.
The harsh townspeople force her up on the scaffold to be humiliated in front of the whole town. Not only is she sent up on the scaffold with her sin revealed by the “A” for everyone to see, Hester becomes an example of what a woman should not come to be. The author is talking about Hesters experience on the scaffold and her pregnancy, “Throughout them all, giving up her individuality, she would become the general symbol at which the preacher and moralist might point, and in which they might vivify and embody their images of woman's frailty and sinful passion”(32). Hester looses her individuality and is labeled by the townspeople and known for the Scarlet Letter. Further, the townspeople singled her out as an alien or outcast of the town forcing her to live an abnormal live. She was ridiculed and known for her one sin, unable to have acceptance back into society. Although the townspeople feel as if Hester has brought sin upon there lives, she clearly have not harmed any of the townspeople physically, and they have no grounds to punish Hester. The cause of the townspeople's harsh disciplinary acts on Hester originates from a strict, unrealistic standards of puritan society and the zero tolerance of any ungodly behavior observed in the town. Due to the absence of proper justice, Hester's sentencing is left up to the harsh townspeople in which they show no mercy or
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s purpose for Hester Prynne is to show that even when the weight of sin and guilt is bearing down on your shoulders, just put it all behind you and do whatever you can to live a normal life. Hester lived the most normal life she could manage, yet she walked around the colony a living testimony. She was the contradiction in the so called “perfect” world the Puritans created. They told her that she was
While Puritan women are weak and dependent upon their husbands, Hester Prynne is empowered and self-reliant. A character designed by Hawthorne to show 19th century women that women’s work could be valuable, Hester supports herself and her daughter by needlework. “For, as the novel unfolds, the letter, intended by the Authorities to signify harsh but just condemnation, is made by Hester to signify something entirely different—able, admirable.” (Bell 109) All aspects considered, the ability of Hester, a woman who committed sin and was publicly punished for this crime, to manipulate this punishment into a virtue
In the first scaffold scene Hester Prynne is depicted standing alone while clutching her baby. She has been sentenced to the scaffold for three hours to face public condemnation. In the Puritan society, where this novel is set, public shame is a source of entertainment. On this occasion the townspeople are present to watch the judgment of Hester.
The scaffold shows how the punishment imposed on us by others may not be as destructive as the guilt we impose on ourselves. When Hester was standing on the scaffold she is not thinking about being punished. She is having flashbacks to earlier times and feeling guilty for what she had done. The scaffold is a platform used for redemption and a symbol of the harsh Puritan code.