The Scarlet Letter Essay

1469 words - 6 pages

In The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne is convicted of adultery and sentenced to wear a scarlet letter "A" on her chest as a lasting reminder of her crime. She is forbidden to take off this token of disgrace, and does as the court says until chapter 13. Hester is rejected by almost everyone in the town when they find out she carrying the child of man who is not her husband. She heroically bears her punishment, continues to live there and stands firm on what she believes. The townspeople are very coarse in the way they treat her and their judgement of Hester. As the story goes on, Hawthorne presents several questions, but offers little to no answers and leaves the mind to wonder and only assume. How does Hester change the symbolism of this heinous letter through the eyes of the Puritan community? What role does Hester's own response to her situation play in changing the meaning of the letter "A"? How is the letter seen as a symbol of the connection between an experience that is sinful in nature and the understanding that would not come about if not for failure? And most importantly, why does Hester refuse to tell the name of her daughter Pearl’s father, while on the stand? Is it possible to love someone so much that you will protect them at any cost, even if that means being humiliated and degraded by others? To Hester it was.
Hawthorne does not go into much detail about Hester’s life before she arrives in the colony of Boston. The fervent moment shared between Hester and Arthur that the novel is centered around was not mentioned at all, Hawthorne is more focused on the emotional effects that encases her. Hawthorne tells us how extraordinary and beautiful Hester's character is, even through her seven years of being disgraced and secluded by Puritan society. Her courage, strength and kindness may not have come from wearing the letter, but we don’t know that because Hawthorne doesn’t discuss Hester’s past, we are only told how the scarlet “A” brought out all of these qualities throughout the book.
In the beginning of the novel Hester is described to be a “tall young woman with a figure of perfect elegance on a large scale."(Hawthorne 26) Her most impressive feature is her "dark and abundant hair, so glossy that it threw off the sunshine with a gleam."(Hawthorne 26) Her eyes are deep and dark, her skin being nothing less than perfection, Hawthorne paints a very angelic picture of Hester for the reader. After seven years of being deemed a sinner, her appearance had started to diminished, her beauty and warmth are gone, her hair concealed under a bonnet; all laid to rest under the weight of the scarlet letter she wears on her bosom. When she finally takes off the bonnet and removes the “A”, she again becomes the glowing woman she was seven years before. Symbolically, when she removes the letter and bonnet, she is, removing the utterly strict Puritan social structure that came with it. Hester only has a short break from the scarlet “A” due to...

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