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“Hope” Is The Thing With Letters

1054 words - 5 pages

Heroines are portrayed as able bodied women, when in the face of danger or adversity, display courage and self-sacrifice. Hester Prynne, the female protagonist of The Scarlet Letter, is forced to wear a scarlet A on her chest because of her affair with Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. The first impression of Hester is that she is a strong woman, grounded in her decisions to keep the father of her child secret, suffering the consequences. Throughout the novel, Hawthorne develops Hester, broken and drowning in her sin, surviving only by having hope and stifling her emotions. Hester is enveloped in her sin, seeing it in her daughter daily, feeling the strain of society, and living with the ...view middle of the document...

“In our nature, however, there is a provision, alike marvelous and merciful, that the sufferer should never know the intensity of what he endures by its present torture, but chiefly by the pang that rankles after it. With almost a serene deportment, therefore, Hester Prynne passed through this portion of her ordeal, and came to a sort of scaffold,” the Puritans humiliated initially and then continued to (Hawthorne 38). “Because Hester Prynne was so perfectly loyal and loving that she would never abandon her lover, she was condemned by the Puritans (Frederic I. Carpenter 312).” They punished her for her sin and refusal. To cope, Hester buries her emotions deep down, in order to survive the ridicule and scorn. It was her defense mechanism, self-preservation, a mean to endure. Hester repressed her emotions, which were connected to her femininity, conforming Hester’s personality to the rest of the Puritans.
As the novel progresses, Hester’s true nature is revealed and she “forces her Puritan townsmates, to see her as a good woman on her own terms” (Baym 1). “Much of the time, which she [Hester] might readily have applied to the better efforts of her art, she employed in making coarse garments for the poor. It is probable that there was an idea of penance in this mode of occupation, and that she offered up a real sacrifice of enjoyment, in devoting so many hours to such rude handiwork.” (Hawthorne 57). Hester often created garments for the poor, an act that a “wicked, evil” woman would not do willingly. Her good qualities began to overshadow her A which was now being seen as “a token, not of that one sin, for which she had borne so long and dreary a penance, but of her many good deeds since” (Hawthorne 111). Hester feels remorse for committing a sin, because of what theology teaches, but she does not feel regret for loving Dimmesdale. Her intentions are to right herself with God, not with the society. The Puritans stress conformity, and when Hester does not conform, she ostracized and condemned. Hester’s hope for the future seems to come true, she is...

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