Essay about The Character of Hester Prynne

Submitted By rb3horse
Words: 698
Pages: 3

The character of Hester Prynne changed significantly throughout the novel "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is possible that her name, Prynne, rhymes with sin, just to further the connection between the character Hester, her actions, and everything around her. In the eyes of her Puritan townspeople, she is an extreme sinner; and has gone against their strict ways by committing adultery. She must now, therefore, wear a mark of shame on her bosom in the form of a scarlet “A” for the rest of her life. Hester is remarkable because not only is she a strong-willed being, extremely intelligent and very capable, but also that these qualities shine throughout the novel. She is portrayed as a beautiful, young woman who had sinned, but was later forgiven. Besides the letter she holds being a physical sign of her disownment from the community, it is revealed as a beautiful piece of art, luxuriously sewn into her gown. In her first scene, Hester is very defiant in that she “repelled him [the town-beadle], by an action marked with natural dignity and force of character” (48). When she does stand upon the scaffold, her subjection to the crowd of Puritan onlookers is agonizing. She holds the child close to her heart that is symbolic comparison between the child and the scarlet letter, implying that they are truly both intertwined. She withstands the public ridicule for three hours without breaking down and revealing her lover and “fellow sufferer” to the townspeople showing just how strong of a woman she is and how faithful she can be. Hawthorne seems to portray Hester, as “divine maternity” and she can do no wrong. She becomes a sort of maternal figure to society by caring for the poor; bringing them food and clothing. With all her good deeds and input on society, she began to become more accepted and was soon able to knit and weave for the townspeople (except for weddings, which people believe would cause misfortune and unrest in their marriage). As time goes on, Hester is not as rash as she once was due to the possibility of losing her daughter. The Governors repeatedly attempt to take Pearl away from Hester, as she was believed to be unfit in the raising of the child without the influence of genuine Puritan law and order. These attempts do so fail partly because Arthur Dimmesdale insists the child is a bond, a necessity of the young woman who “has nothing if she does not have the child”. It pains Hester to watch her child go about the world as if possessed by an agent of Satan, and she both loves, and in some ways, loathes the child. Roger Chillingworth