12 December 2014
A Symbol of Transcendentalism, Hester Prynne James F. Cooper, an American writer, says, “tis hard to live in a world where all look upon you as below them.” This comment basically says that it is hard to live in a world where everybody looks down on you. This explains Hester Prynne’s lifestyle in every single way. With her husband Roger Chillingworth away, Hester Prynne commits the act of adultery with Arthur Dimmesdale, the minister at the time, which produced their child Pearl. Instead of rotting in prison, Hester Prynne must wear a scarlet A upon her chest to remind herself and everyone around her of the sin that she has committed. One either believes she transcends or she does not transcend. One of the very few examples of non-transcending throughout the book is that Hester still practices puritan ways. She still believes in what all of the other Puritans do like religion. However, Hester conveys qualities that help support that she does transcend. Her transcending ways help make her a better woman and a better mother towards Pearl. Society thinks that she has committed a sin. However, Hester Prynne expresses transcendentalism over making something like the scarlet A seem beautiful, living away from the judgmental society, and taking care of herself and Pearl all on her own.
In the first place, Hester Prynne conveys that all humans are innately good by making the letter that stands for something sinful good and beautiful. “…that SCARLET LETTER, so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom. It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself.” (Hawthorne 51) This line says that the beauty of the letter takes away the thought of the sin that Hester commits. Also, Sojourner Truth’s Ain’t I a Woman speech speaks much about this topic. Her whole speech talks about the goodness of all humans. It says that even though she has a different skin color she is still as good as a white man or woman. Hester relates to this by expressing her humanity even though she has a scarlet letter upon her chest. Hester Prynne expresses the goodness of humanity by making the scarlet letter seem so beautiful.
Secondly, Hester demonstrates one of her transcendentalist traits by living in the woods away from the disapproving society. This does not express conformity. “On the outskirts of the town… but not in close vicinity to any other habitation, there was a small thatched cottage.” (Hawthorne 71) The cottage is abandoned and no one has wanted to live there in a really long time. Hester has no problem living there because of the distance away from society. In addition to Hawthorne’s words, Edward Abbey has a powerful statement that helps to support that Hester Prynne does not conform. “I took the other road, all right, but only because it was the easy road for me, the way I wanted to go.” (Postcards) Edward Abbey says that he took the true and easiest road for him. Hester decides to live outside of town resulting in less judgment from others. Even though she still lives in Boston, she lives on the outskirts because nobody else does, showing us another way of how she transcends.
In the final analysis, Hester takes care of herself and Pearl all on her own. This helps represent yet another type of transcendentalism. Hester in general portrays an example of self-reliance. She stays true to herself by not giving into the hate from society. She provides food for herself and Pearl, provides stability for