The Scarlet Letter Analysis Essay

Submitted By briannafraher
Words: 1145
Pages: 5

Bri Summer Reading Essay: AP US History
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a perfect example of cruel, harsh, and unreasonable punishment for the breaking of one law based off of religious background in government. Hester, the main character, is punished for her crime of adultery and it’s discovered that religion in this colonial time highly influenced resident behavior, punishment, and daily life. Our story’s protagonist, Hester Prynne, gives the book its title by being the wearer scarlet letter, a small piece of fabric in the shape of an “A” that is worn on the chest. She is forced to wear this letter as a reminder that she has committed adultery and therefore is shunned. After being married, she moves to Boston, awaiting her new husband to soon move there. A long time passes and her husband never comes and Hester falls in love with none other than the town’s Puritan minister. With this minister, she has an illegitimate child named Pearl. This whole thing is considered of one of the worst crimes in a Puritan society as one does not simply leave the person they vowed to stay with. The town believes that Hester must be against God to want to do such a thing and should be kept away from their children as a bad example so she lives on the outskirts of town with her daughter. Her daughter, Pearl, is also shunned as she is a mischievous child and soon earns the nickname of “Devil”. The town perceives her as evil when she’s simply smart and wise beyond her years. She thinks a lot and figures out the truth about her mother, the scarlet letter, and the minister. While this is all happening, Hester’s former husband finally does make it to Boston only to see his wife being tormented and punished in front of the whole town. He finds out about her adultery and decides to hide behind a secret name, Roger Chillingworth, and pretends to be new to the town to practice medicine while he figures out who the man is that Hester was with. As the story progresses, the minister becomes sick with guilt and eventually needs Chillingworth to live with and watch him round the clock. One night, Chillingworth discovers the scarlet “A” on the minister’s chest and his suspicions are confirmed. Hester, knowing of Chillingworth’s presence, fears he’ll expose the minister so she and her lover decide to take a ship away. Chillingoworth learns of their plan and also decides to book the same ship. After a sermon, a couple days before they are supposed to leave, the minister mounts the town scaffold with Hester and Pearl and confesses his adultery, showing the town his scarlet letter. Then, he dies and Hester and her daughter still move away although Chillingworth soon dies, angry his revenge never worked. The story ends when Hester comes back to live in her cottage outside of town and finds out her daughter is living a good life, married to a rich man. The characters in this story act the way they do due to their extreme personalities and their religious views. Hester, who became the towns laughing stock, used to be more of a free spirit before she wore the scarlet letter. Her affair is a sign of how deeply she feels even though she knows it’s wrong. When she has her child and her adultery is discovered she will never admit that the minister is her fateful lover. Instead she is shunned and punished more for her unwillingness to speak admit who is also guilty of her crime. She thinks deeply about human nature and the way people act, organize, and love. Although a woman in these times may be looked down upon to think rather than simply clean, cook, and raise children, Hester has nothing to lose as she’s already looked down upon. She still stays true to her lover even after they are caught and wants nothing but the best for him and their daughter. Hester acts the most valiantly and strongly out of all of the characters by standing tall when the town put her down publically, verbally abused her and her daughter and