Ap English Language and Composition
The Scarlet Letter Essay
Is It a Feminist Novel ?
A large theme in Nathanial Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter is feminism.
Feminism is simply a woman’s role in society. Hawthorne’s characterization of Hester as a weak woman who obeyed the wishes of a patriarchal society illustrates his antifeminist views.
Anti feminist views are views is the ideology that is broadly defined as an opposition to feminism or some aspect of feminism. The meaning of antifeminism has varied across time and cultures and it has attracted both men and women.
When Dimmesdale tells Hester to never reveal him as the father, Hester obeys. Even when she is in front of the whole town she declines to break her promise to Dimmesdale, exclaiming, “I might endure his agony, as well as mine. (57)” By refusing to admit to who the father is, she takes all the blame herself. When Chillingworth brings out the point that, “he bears no letter of infamy wrought into his garment, as thou dost,”(63). Hester still refuses to break the promise between her and Dimmesdale, and instead carries all the blame .
When Hester is accused of the crime of adultery, she goes along with what society tells her to do, and never puts up a fight. She never mentions the fact that her husband has been gone for two years and is believed to be dead to defend herself but instead takes the punishment given to her. Hester has the opportunity to, “return to her birthplace, or to any other European land, and there hide her character and identity under a new exterior,” (67) but
she does not want to run away and start a new life . She would rather take the punishment that society has given to her because she feels that she deserves it.
There was another reason Hester did not want to run away, and although she tried not to think of it, she always knew it to be true. Hester believed that she and Dimmesdale where in sinc and even though they were, “unrecognized on earth,” that they would be, “together before the bar of final judgment.”(68) Hester never wanted to run away without Dimmesdale.
Until Dimmesdale suggesedt that they runaway, Hester is unwilling to do it. When
Dimmesdale suggest that they run, Hester suddenly changes her opinion exclaiming that,
“The past is gone!” showing she will only start a new life if she has Dimmesdale (177). This gives the reader an understanding that Hester is still in love with Dimmesdale and was willing to wait seven years so that they could start a life together. Although Dimmesdale is the only man who Hester loves he is not the only man she obeys.
Even though Hester no longer has love for Chillingworth she continues to obey him.
When Chillingworth says, “Breathe not, to any human soul, that thou didst ever call me husband!” Hester complies with