The Scarlet Letter: The Spiritual Growth Of Hester Prynne

1451 words - 6 pages

The Scarlet Letter: The Spiritual Growth of Hester Prynne

The Scarlet Letter: The Spiritual Growth of Hester Prynne



 


The character of Hester Prynne changed significantly throughout the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hester Prynne, through the eyes of the Puritans, is an extreme sinner; she has gone against the Puritan ways, committing adultery. For this harsh sin, she must wear a symbol of shame for the rest of her life. However, the Romantic philosophies of Hawthorne put down the Puritanic beliefs. She is a beautiful, young woman who has sinned, but is forgiven. Hawthorne portrays Hester as "divine maternity" and she can do no wrong. Not only Hester, but the physical scarlet letter, a Puritanical sign of disownment, is shown through the author's tone and diction as a beautiful, gold and colorful piece. 



From the beginning, we see that Hester Prynne is a young and beautiful woman who has brought a child into the world with an unknown father. She is punished by Puritan society by wearing the scarlet letter A on the bosom of her dress and standing on the scaffold for three hours. Her hair is a glossy brown and her eyes deep-set, and black, her attire is rich, carefully caressing her slender figure. The scaffold is a painful task to bear; the townspeople gathered around to gossip and stare at Hester and her newborn child, whom she suitably named Pearl, named because of her extreme value to her mother. In the disorder of faces in the crowd, young Hester Prynne sees the face of a man she once was fiercely familiar with, whom we later learn is her true husband, Roger Chillingworth. Her subjection to the crowd of Puritan onlookers is excruciating to bear, and Hester holds the child to her heart, a symbolic comparison between the child and the scarlet letter, implying that they are truly both intertwined. 



Prynne is imprisoned with her child, both of whom are emotionally and physically exhausted from the punishment at the scaffold. The husband, Roger Chillingworth, passes by and is commissioned to be the physician to the two, and remedy them of their sicknesses. She is surprised he had come at such a time where she was at a point of such horrendous turmoil. He demands that she cannot reveal his identity, yet he also wishes to know the identity of her lover, the father of the child. She refuses to tell him. Later in the novel, we discover that Arthur Dimmesdale is the confidential lover. 



Hester is released from her cell, after which she resides for the next few years in a hut by the sea. Her child, Pearl, is a devilish, impish, terribly behaved child, that is indifferent to the strict Puritan society. Pearl is a pain to please, having her way all the time because of her mother's failure to subdue her to the proper Puritan etiquette. Hester knits and weaves for the townspeople, except for weddings, which people believe would cause...

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