Character Analysis of Hester from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
"With nothing now to lose in the sight of mankind, and with no hope, and seemingly no wish, of gaining anything, it could only be a genuine regard for virtue that had brought back the poor wanderer to its paths." (153)
With his precise diction Nathaniel Hawthorne displays an interesting conflict based on a disagreement between the protagonist, Hester Prynne, and the strict Puritan society around her in his novel The Scarlet Letter. This disagreement is brought to the readers attention as Hester displays pride in a symbol, the letter A, which society has branded her with as a mark of shame. Hester's isolation from the society results from her not accepting the fact that she has sinned. It is not until Hester places the mark of shame upon her own body and soul and accepts her sin that her conflict can be resolved. Through shame, despair, and solitude, Hester gains the inner strength needed to overcome the austere severity of a judgmental Puritan society.
"On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter 'A.'" (60) This "A" represented the adultery Hester once committed, as did her child named Pearl. From the very beginning, Hawthorne indicates to his readers that Hester feels no guilt in being an adulteress. The ravishing embroidered fashion in which the "A" is presented to the reader shows the haughty and defiant attitude Hester possesses. Not only does Hester embellish the letter but she also dresses up her daughter in red cloth with gold thread. "It was the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed with life!" (103) By doing this Hester is shaping an analogy between the mark of what should be her guilt and her object of greatest affection. Hester possesses a very resistant and dignified attitude. This attitude is shown from the beginning as she holds her head high, despite the looks of scorn. "Stretching forth the official staff in his left hand, he laid his right upon the shoulder of a young woman, whom he thus drew forward; until, on the threshold of the prison door, she repelled him, by an action marked with natural dignity and force of character, and stepped into the open air, as if by her own free will."( )
The general society on the other hand, being Puritan, believed that Hester was an appalling woman and should hang for her sin. "'This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die!'"(59) People just passing by would judge her as if in a court room as they observe the letter upon her chest. "…the children of the Puritans looked up from their play- or what passed for play with those sombre little urchins- and spoke gravely to one another: 'Behold verily, there is the woman of the scarlet letter, and, of a truth, moreover, there is the likeness of the scarlet letter running along by her side! Come, therefore and let...