How Hester Changes: The Strength Of Her Character

1145 words - 5 pages

In the Scarlet Letter, it is remarkable how Hawthorne shows Hester Prynne's strength of character. Although Hawthorne does not give us much information about Hester's life prior to the novel, he does show her great character which is revealed through the number of trials and obstacles she faced, her public humiliation and isolated Puritan life. Hester seems to have changed the greatest in character and attitude, from a haughty and proud demeanor to having a warm and tender heart. Throughout the novel, Hester changes three different times, from being a shamed woman to a capable and able woman and then to a healer. Her honesty, strong willed spirit and compassion may have been in her character all along, but the scarlet letter really brought it to the attention or others.In the beginning of the novel, Hester is described as being a tall, slim beautiful girl with "long, dark abundant hair" (51). She has a rich complexion, her eyes are dark and beautiful, and altogether is a gorgeous girl. Despite her outward appearance, she has a great personality as well. With her strong willed spirit and "wild and passionate heart" (Herzog 117), who can help but love her. Nevertheless, when Hester becomes imprisoned with a child, she is forced to become the mature mother that Pearl needs. When Hester is finally able to come home from prison, she emerges from the prison door, proud and beautiful wearing an embroidered scarlet letter "A" on her chest as she carries a three month old baby "'But Ah', Interposed more softly, a young wife holding the child 'let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will always be in her heart" (49). Her expression as she exited the prison did not seem to show any kind of regret. She seemed to be proud and unashamed of what she had done "with a burning blush and yet a haughty smile, and a glace that would not be abashed" (50).Hester is faced with several different punishments. While she is standing on the scaffold she becomes aware of the stern faces looking up at her. Hester painfully realizes her position of guilt and shame. She was made to stand on the scaffold for three hours "here, she said to herself, had been the scene of her guilt and here should be the scene of her earthly punishment. The torture of her daily shame would at length purge her soul, and work out another purity than that which she had lost; more saint like because of the martyrdom" (74). The task was both physically and emotionally exhausting for Hester and Pearl. The Puritan society will not forgiver her for the adultery that she has committed, so they put her through all the shame and embarrassment, the feelings of torments and ridicule, and the public display of her sin as she stands on the scaffold in the middle of the day.The child that she carries is also the greatest punishment that Hester could have. Pearl is a constant reminder of her sin that happened long ago. Pearl is the only one who can see the warmth, charm and passion that Hester once had....

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