The Scarlet Letter Essay

1872 words - 8 pages

1. Hester Prynne is portrayed as a Christ figure in The Scarlet Letter. She displays self-sacrifice, saintlike features, and exemplifies some biblical teachings throughout the book. The first, which is self-sacrifice, is shown when Hester is standing on the scaffold in front of the whole town and will not uncover the other participant in the adultery. Reverend Wilson questions her of this man that helped commit this crime, “Speak out thy name! That, and thy repentance, may avail to take the scarlet letter off thy breast” (60), with the attempt to bribe her by promising the possible removal of the scarlet A. She refuses to sell out her secret lover with the responses “Never” and “I will not speak!” (60) but the young clergyman keeps questioning Hester. She is willing to take the fall for the both of them and stand up there with the humiliation of their actions. “It is too deeply branded. Ye cannot take it off. And would that I might endure his agony, as well as mine!” (60). This reinforces her firmness in protecting Dimmesdale and from completely razing his name as a minister by telling the public. She is willing to endure the ignominy from the public without exposing him, which is an example of self-sacrifice. With saying that, Hester is like Jesus Christ because he was crucified for our sins as a form of self-sacrifice so we could have eternal life and go to Heaven. Hester's actions for Dimmesdale caused her much more agony and humiliation by the public because of the scarlet letter on her bosom, but she sacrificed herself for him just as Jesus did for humanity. Hester is also looked down upon while she is on the scaffold, just as Jesus was when he died on the cross. Throughout the fifth chapter, Hester expresses a saint-like nature and a determination to hold herself accountable to make good decisions and not fall into sin amongst the cruel community. She doesn't allow herself to keep up her adultery or any other sinful actions, acting almost as a saint would. She felt that she held the key to her own salvation and wouldn't mess that up. Hester realized she could sequester away and be happy but she felt that she should endure the punishment and her wrong doings. “Here...had been the scene of her guilt, and here should be the scene of her earthly punishment...” (71). Dealing with her punishment and staying there would constantly “purge her soul and work out another purity than that which she had lost; more saintlike, because the result of martyrdom.” (71). A martyr indeed to stay there and be so patient with people constantly demeaning her and judging her by the scarlet letter. In addition, Hester names her daughter Pearl, which is significant to her being a Christ figure because a pearl is referred to in the Bible as something very fine. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.” (Matthew 13:45). Therefore, Hester Prynne is most definitely a Christ figure in this novel due to her actions and also her beliefs in...

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