Essay about Inevitable Past in the Scarlet Letter

Submitted By lolomomo123
Words: 798
Pages: 4

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne is characterized by her sin as an adulterer, but is able to transcend her past and continue with her life, just as Eldridge Cleaver was forced to do after being convicted of serial rape.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” This statement is especially true when considering Hester Prynne. After Hester commits her sin, she is automatically out cast by Puritan society. Hester denies the opportunity to move out of town, which would give her the chance for a fresh start, free from her irrevocable past. “Hester Prynne, therefore, did not flee… Hester established herself, with her infant child.” (pg 75 ch 5). Rather then run away from reality, Hester chooses to stay, ignoring what others think of her. Next, Hester is able to get a job and provide for her daughter and herself. “Hester really filled a gap which must otherwise have remained vacant; it is certain that she had ready and fairly requited employment for as many hours as she saw fit to occupy.” (pg 76, ch 5) Hester possesses a strength of character that allows her to transcend the social and moral judgment against her. Disregarding the authorities wishes to take Pearl away, Hester raises her daughter on her own. Hester sees her daughter as a blessing and considers her sin as a lesson. “This badge hath taught me- it daily teaches me- it is teaching me at this moment- lessons whereof my child may be the wiser and better, albeit they can profit nothing to myself.” (pg 100, ch 8) Hester embraces her sin, and therefore dedicates her life to ensuring the well being of her daughter. Lastly, despite being cast into the lowest social class, Hester becomes an example for the Puritan women who had once shunned her. “The letter was the symbol of her calling. Such helpfulness was found in her,- so much power to do, and power to sympathize,- that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength.” (pg 146, ch 13) Hester goes from being the most hated and frowned upon woman, to a symbol of strength within her town. Ultimately, it is all these components that allow Hester to truly transcend her past. Similarly, in the 1960’s, Eldridge Cleaver, is an example of someone who was able to move beyond his actions, and change his life for the better. Eldridge Cleaver first a serial rapist, is now remembered as one of the most recognizable and influential symbols of African-American rebellion in the 1960’s. Coming from a poor background, Cleaver devoted his time to a life of crime. Ronald Reagan once stated "If Eldridge Cleaver is allowed to teach our children, they may come home one night and slit our throats," While serving jail time for his conviction of serial rapes, Cleaver began to find an inspiration in Malcolm X and his teachings regarding