Hester's Alienation From Society Depicted In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

996 words - 4 pages

Throughout The Scarlet Letter, the moral and social values pertaining to the discrimination of females by society is revealed through the alienation of Hester Prynne, the main character in The Scarlet Letter. During The Scarlet Letter, Hester is punished for her adulterous relationship with Reverend Dimmesdale which results in a child named Pearl. As a result of the adulterous relationship, the authorities of The Puritan society that she is residing in sentences her to wear a Scarlet Letter on her breast that is supposed to stand for adulterer, stand on a scaffold in front of the entire community for public viewing of her Scarlet Letter and Pearl, and serve a prison sentence. But in reality, Hester has a life sentence, the alienation from society because of The Scarlet Letter and how the community looks down on adulterers. Once released from prison, Hester does not try to hide The Scarlet Letter but instead, she flourishes it, separating herself from other women at the time who would be ashamed of it. Thus she is further alienated because women were supposed to conform to the society’s beliefs on how they should behave. Hawthorn chooses to discriminate Hester in The Scarlet Letter in order to ease his fear of the unrepressed female gender. Hawthorne’s feelings were common among male members of society during the time period The Scarlet Letter took place.
Hawthorne alienates Hester from society in his book The Scarlet Letter by putting her through embarrassment on the scaffold, sentencing her to wear The Scarlet Letter unless she succumbs to the masculine authorities and gives up the name of Pearl’s paternal figure, and portraying Hester as a witch who “saps the phallic power” (p.297), which Shari Benstock says in her criticism “The Scarlet Letter (a)doree or the Female Body Embroidered.” The alienation of Hester from society begins when she is placed on the scaffold in front of the entire community so they could gawk and speculate about her amongst themselves. But the worst part of Hester’s punishment was not standing on the scaffold; it was the sentence of wearing The Scarlet Letter being placed on her breast for everyone to see. Hester was sentenced to wear The Scarlet Letter to embarrass/humiliate her because she committed adultery with Reverend Dimmesdale. Hawthorne chose a woman to commit adultery and wear The Scarlet Letter because he has a fear of unrepressed feminine sexuality and in order to relieve his anxiety, Hawthorne must humiliate or repress a female. Once Hester was on the scaffold, the crowd gawked at The Scarlet Letter because they knew that it stood for an adulterous sin committed by Hester. Even though Hester wore dull, gray clothes similar to the other women of society, she always stuck out in a crowd because of the vibrant Scarlet Letter. The color of the Letter was pronounced because the Puritan’s clothing was generally dull colors and only processions of very important people like Reverends...

Find Another Essay On Hester's Alienation from Society Depicted in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

Morality in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

2158 words - 9 pages the defining characteristic of Hester's personality. She allowed all of her thoughts and actions to be affected by the letter, to the point where it became less a sign of her sin and more a sign of her redemption from that sin. However, either way, it defined her. This is implied in one passage which reads:   "...owing to a particular effect of this convex mirror, the scarlet letter was represented in exaggerated and gigantic proportions

Individualism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1065 words - 4 pages Individualism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Often in society people are criticized, punished and despised for their individual choices and flaws. In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author uses Hester Prynne to symbolize that those who challenge social conformities can benefit society as a whole. Though she has been banished for committing adultery, she sees that the community needs her. Through her

Sin in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

2142 words - 9 pages      Nathaniel Hawthorne's bold novel, The Scarlet Letter, revolves around sin and punishment.  The main characters of the novel sharply contrast each other in the way they react to the sin that has been committed             Dimmesdale's instantaneous response to the sin is to lie.  He stands before Hester and the rest of the town and proceeds to give a moving speech about how it would be in her and the father's best interest for her to

Two Faces in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1359 words - 5 pages The Scarlet Letter:  Two Faces               "No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally becoming bewildered as to which may be true”. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, this quote applies to the two main characters of the novel. It applies to Arthur Dimmesdale in a literal way; he clearly is not the man that he appears to be, and the guilt that goes along with

Feminism in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

541 words - 2 pages Written in 1850, The Scarlet Letter stood as a very progressive book. With new ideas about women, main characters’ stories intertwined, and many different themes, The Scarlet Letter remains today as a extremely popular novel about 17th century Boston, Massachusetts. Not only was the 19th century a time for the abolition of slavery movement but it was also the beginning of the first wave of feminism. Women such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan

Passion in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1371 words - 5 pages in every relationship is what side the coin will land on. Works Cited Easton, Alison. “A Critique of Puritan Society.” Modern Critical Interpretations: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 114-126 Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Signet Classics Edition. New York: New American Library, 1999. Thrailkill, Jane F. “The Doctor and the Minister.” From Studies in

The Pillory in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter

652 words - 3 pages description exemplifies the heinous sense of justice of the Puritans. It reflects and firmly establishes the outrage against human nature of which the Puritans are guilty. All of the ugly and immoral practices of their society are replicated in the pillory, and its very existence is a defiance of that which is good and natural. Through this defiance, justice cannot truly be achieved to the fullest extent.   Works Cited 1.  Hawthorne, Nathaniel.  The Scarlet Letter. The Cornwall Press, inc., Cornwall, New York. 1948.

Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1605 words - 6 pages refuse to recognize the light of love she has come from. Altogether, she and the other characters of Hawthorne's New England mythology form a richly intricate fabric on which the allegories of The Scarlet Letter rest. Richard Chase's presentation of allegorical elements in The Scarlet Letter is thorough and well reasoned. Miriam-Webster defines an allegory as the expression of religious truths by means of symbolic and fictional characters. As

Character Analysis: "Pearl" from Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

848 words - 3 pages Pearl is the symbolic character of the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Pearl is the daughter of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, the result of their secret sin. As a result of the sin Pearl's mother is forced to wear the letter "A", embroidered in scarlet upon her chest, so all will know of her adultery. Pearl is mainly described through other characters in the novel, though Pearl's actions also play an important part in

Alienation in "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

1160 words - 5 pages alienation. She is different from all of society because of that mark, and can never live a normal life because of it. "...Let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart," (38), said a townsperson at first sight of the scarlet letter. As seen in this quote, society will always look at the scarlet letter as a wall between themselves and Hester. Hester's behavior shows how greatly she is affected by her alienation. "Lonely

The Characters' Sinful Nature Depicted in The Scarlet Letter

678 words - 3 pages affects a person while living in a Puritan society. In the beginning of the story Hester Prynne is standing in public upon the scaffold, where people are sent to go stand for having committed sin. Upon Hester's chest a mark is seen, it is a scarlet “A”. We learn that the “A” stands for adulterer amongst the society. However, we can see that by being on the scaffold, Hester is being used as an example show people what happens as a result of sin

Similar Essays

Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" Hester's Alienation

1249 words - 5 pages Throughout his book The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne is preoccupied with the relationship between the individual and society. Hester's sin and subsequent condemnation alienate her. No where is this alienation more apparent than in Chapter 5, 'Hester at her Needle'. Condemned by her sin of passion, Hester is separated from her community, not only physically, as she lives on the edge of the town, and socially, as she this chapter

Hester's Deconstruction Of Puritan Ideals In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

832 words - 3 pages The Scarlet Letter - Hester's  Deconstruction of Puritan Ideals     Hester, the protagonist in Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter, effectively challenges the efforts of the Puritan theocracy to define her, and at the same time, contain the threat she poses to the social order.   Throughout the novel Hester bears the mark of an "A" embroidered on her chest which was originally intended to label her as a social outcast, more

Hester's Romantic Ideals In The Scarlet Letter

1074 words - 4 pages Romantics values greatly. Romantic literature portrays messages and characters like the ones in The Scarlet Letter to explain the value of truth and experience. Throughout the book evidence of this can be clearly seen making it a good example of Romantic literature. The Romantic Movement started in America by American artists and authors. The Romantics had strong beliefs expressed through their writing, music, and artwork. Many novels from this

The Puritan Society In N. Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter"

1519 words - 6 pages In the introductory sketch to Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel the 'The Scarlet Letter', the reader is informed that one of the author's ancestors persecuted the Quakers harshly. The latter's son was a high judge in the Salem witch trials, put into literary form in Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible' (Judge Hathorne appears there). We learn that Hawthorne feels ashamed for their deeds, and that he sees his ancestors and the Puritan society as a whole with