Essay, Research Paper: Scarlet Letter By Hawthorne

Literature: Nathaniel Hawthorne

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The novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne was an objective description
of the life of Hester Prynne, an adultress. The novel does not go into specific
details of the thoughts of the woman except to describe the mien of her
character. Throughout the novel she faces humiliation by the other people of
Boston, but never loses her sense of pride. Hester Prynne suffers enormousely
from the shame of her public disgrace and from the isolation of her punishment;
however, she retains her self-respect and survives her punishment with dignity,
grace, and ever-growing strength of character. From the moment Hester Prynne is
introduced into the plot of The Scar- let Letter in chapter 2, "The
Marketplace", the reader realizes how prideful she is. As an adultress, she
is forced to endure ignominy by her peers and is doomed to have the letter A
bound to her heart. When standing on the scaffold as pun- ishment for her sins,
she never truly falters. She hold a three month old infant in her arms and
attempts to cover her brand with the child. However, she realizes that the baby
symbolizes her sin just as much as the letter, and decides it's pointless.
Throughout many years of her life, Hester was considered an outcast by the
people of her town. These repercussions are felt by her daughter, Pearl, as
well, because she has no friends. They don't associate with others and some
instances occurred when Puritan children would throw rocks at the two. During
this time, Hester refuses to make publicly known the name of her child's father.
To bear the weight of her punishment all alone made her even stronger. As her
life progressed, Hester became less of an outcast in the public eye. She was
gifted at embroidery and was charitable to those less fortunate than she.
(Although Hester was a talented seamstress, she did not make as much money as
she could have because she was not allowed to sew wedding dresses. This is
obviously because she had committed sins that were supposed to be confined to
the sanctity of marriage.) Seven years after she had stood on the scaffold as a
criminal, her letter was thought by the people to mean "able" as
opposed to "adultress". Some time after that the public changed their
views of her again and she was thought of as "angel". Even though she
wanted to rid herself of the letter, she knew she couldn't because she had to
bear the consequences of her actions for the remainder of her life, or at the
very least the rest of her life in Boston. In conclusion, Hester Prynne was a
strong woman who possessed a great deal of integrity and strength. Her probity
was manifested by the way she pro- jected herself, even when faced with public
disgrace. On the outside, it would seem as though the letter did nothing to hurt
her pride. The reader doesn't know what Hester felt internally, but he does know
that she felt the brand of the letter deep in her heart, as if it had become a
part of her. However, this did not affect how she carried herself. Hester Prynne
always had a sense of pride, dignity, and self-respect that surrounded her being
and told all who encountered her she was filled with probity.
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