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Comparing The Scarlet Letter By Hawthorne To The Other By De Beauvoir

1428 words - 6 pages

In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne describes Hester as an enigma of womankind instilling his views of Puritanism and the role of the woman into the heroine. In de Beauvoir's essay, The Other, she introduces the role of woman as seen by men in society. Both writers have developed a clear idea of the purpose of woman in society. Yet there are variations in their beliefs on woman's role in society. Each author advocates an ideal relationship between men and women. Even now, some of the writer's perceptions on the relationships between man and woman are still shared by a large number of people, but there have been many changes since The Scarlet Letter and The Other were published. Each author has, in his or her own way, conveyed a strong idea of the model woman and her place in the bonds of community.Hawthorne and de Beauvoir have unique views of females. De Beauvoir believes that men see women as the inferior sex and they are subordinates to men. Hawthorne, on the other hand, feels that although most women are lower in status than men, some women in society can have more prestige than men. De Beauvoir thinks that men have an unfair advantage in society and that a woman, no matter how perfect, is no better than any man. Yet, Hawthorne refutes this belief by making Hester seem to be better and stronger than Chillingworth and Dimmesdale. At the end, Hester even is revered and envied by all the townspeople. De Beauvoir seems to believe that woman has no influence on society, yet Hawthorne's portrayal of Hester makes readers believe that she may have softened the Puritan's view on adultery and other crimes.Both authors' judgments of females' dependency on males are strongly affirmed. Man seems to be the more dominant sex. De Beauvoir takes this belief to the extreme. "He is the Subject, he is the Absolute - she is the Other." Hawthorne also seems to believe that man is usually more dominant, yet he also asserts that woman is, in some cases, stronger than man. Of Hester, Hawthorne writes, "But, Hester Prynne, with a mind of native courage and activity... had habituated herself to such latitude of speculation as was altogether foreign to the clergyman." However, Dimmesdale was weak and was about to die, "To this poor pilgrim on his dreary and desert path, faint, sick, miserable..." Hawthorne's and de Beauvoir's stand on the status of woman in relation to man are both very convincing.Both works suggest that the social standing of the person predetermines much of his or her life. De Beauvoir implies that no matter how high socially a woman is, she is no better than any man. "Now, woman has always been the man's dependent, if not his slave; the two sexes have never shared the world in equality." In contrast, Hawthorne elevates Hester to a standing above almost all of the men and women in the town. "The scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the world's scorn and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with...

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