Essay Example on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel The Scarlet Letter








Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel The Scarlet Letter deals with the punishment faced by Hester Prynne who wears the letter A on her clothes as a symbol of her adultery The letter affects the entire community from Hester herself to her child to her secret lover but the intentions of the magistrates who gave it to her are lost By the end of Hester s life and because of her long history of selflessness the letter becomes symbolic far beyond its original intention The scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the world s scorn and bitterness and became a type of something to be sorrowed over and looked upon with awe yet with reverence too The letter s purpose and meaning changes over the years during which Hester wears it evolving into something ways the Puritan authority never intended When Hester stands on the scaffold at the beginning of the novel the Puritan magistrates desire to prod her for a confession of her sin and humiliate her with continual reference to the ignominious letter Hester stands strong and calm Years later Hester's daughter Pearl is seven years old Pearl does not see the letter like everyone else does For her the letter identifies her mother as different from the others and Pearl find them to be pine trees aged black and solemn and flinging groans and other melancholy utterances on the breeze and the ugliest weeds of the garden

For Pearl the letter is positive it makes her mother special Pearl associates the scarlet letter with all the good qualities of her mother and when in the forest with Dimmesdale Hester takes off the letter in front of Pearl She refuses to come to her mother and she points her small forefinger at Hester's bosom Without the letter Pearl feels as though her mother has disappeared She has attached the letter to her mother and her mother to the letter They have become one and for Pearl this is immensely important Another way the letter ceases to hold its original meaning is the way that the townspeople view it In their eyes Hester Prynne has become a woman known for doing good works She helps the sick and the downtrodden always wearing the scarlet letter on her breast Most people in the community accepted her and many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification They said that it meant Abel so strong was Hester Prynne with a woman's strength In the end Hester will not be shunned She is strong and kind and her good works outweigh her sins The community begins to overlook their rigid rules because they like Hester as a person The letter makes Hester different not only to her daughter and her community but to herself It is remarkable mulls the narrator that persons who speculate the most boldly often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulations of society So it seemed to be with Hester She is no longer a child of passion and rebellion who had a foolish affair and in the past years when she has worn the letter she has reflected and found herself Even after the scaffold and the imprisonment after public scorn and humiliation Hester Prynne still looks back and sees that perhaps her actions were not made with the purpose of sinning she is just a woman who thinks differently than those around her She begins to understand that in the end the same letter which insulted her also empowered her and taught her how to become independent 

She can find peace with herself Hester might have come down to us in history hand in hand with Ann Hutchinson as the foundress of a religious sect She might in one of her phases have been a prophetess The original purpose of the scarlet letter has never been met Far from submitting Hester to the rules of the settlement the letter detached her from her insignificant and ignorant surroundings The letter taught her how to appropriately measure the influence of other people's thoughts beliefs and opinions on her life For her the scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread Shame Despair Solitude These had been her teachers stern and wild ones and they had made her strong The scarlet letter that she wears makes Hester Prynne different but in a way which grew beyond shame and ostracism The letter became infused with Hester's identity a when she decides to wear it on her own terms she embraces who she has become She is different than the Puritan community which surrounds her and Pearl saw this from the beginning The scarlet letter altered the stories of everyone it touched and for the most part it did so positively Hester s eyes were opened by wearing the letter and in the end she transformed the scarlet letter it did not transform her

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