How Does Hester Prynne Create A Religiously Harsh Society

Good Essays
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter takes place in Puritan Boston during the seventeenth century where the Puritans have created a religiously harsh society. Hester Prynne is publicly shamed and condemned to wear a scarlet A on her chest for the remainder of her life because she committed adultery. Hester is forced to live in isolation with her daughter Pearl, whose reputation is also ruined. Dimmesdale, although it is unknown to the Puritans that he committed adultery, does not feel free or safe in Puritan society anymore. The Puritans’ strict beliefs do not allow for any mistakes, which makes Dimmesdale so filled with guilt that he tortures himself for years. Trapped in a society where it is impossible to act and think by oneself without …show more content…
The forest is described as dark; however, it “became the playmate of lonely [Pearl], as well as it knew how. Sombre as it was, it put on the kindest of its moods to welcome her” (195). The fact that the forest “put on the kindest of its mood to welcome her” stresses the innocence and the importance of Pearl as a character. She embraces Nature and it embraces her. While Nature is feared by the majority of members in the Puritan society, for it is unknown and uncontrollable to them, Pearl is unafraid due to the similarities between Nature and herself. Pearl was born out of wedlock, which makes her an outsider to society, unable to fit into Puritanism and all of its definitions of worthiness and purity. Nature is also unable to be controlled by the Puritans, creating a stronger connection with Pearl. The “mother-forest, and these wild things which it [nourishes], all [recognizes] a kindred wildness in the human child” and welcomes her because she is innocent, despite what others believe (195). Having been isolated from the town since birth, Pearl grew up uncorrupted by the Puritans and their strict religious beliefs. The forest remains the only friend and a place of safety to Pearl throughout the novel because it does not judge her for …show more content…
As Pearl dances in the sunlight, Hester attempts to grab some, but “as she attempted to do so, the sunshine vanished” (175). The sunlight represents happiness and change, which Hester does have not and is not ready to do. She continues to wear the scarlet A, making her still part of Puritan society, even though she lives in isolation. It is not until she throws the A on the forest ground that she smiles, which “forth [bursts] the sunshine, pouring a very flood into the obscure forest, gladdening each green leaf” (193). Not only does throwing away her last connection to Puritanism give her happiness, but the forest as well. The image of sunshine “pouring a flood into the forest” emphasizes how important and great it was for Hester to release herself from the confinements Puritan society has forced upon her. Hester is no longer subjugated to the humiliation and the ruination of her reputation that Puritans controlled over her life. Even though the forest did not welcome her from the beginning, it remained a safe place for Hester to think freely throughout the novel, allowing her to eventually throw away the A and not feel guilty about doing

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    In The Scarlet Letter, characters, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale commit adultery, a very serious crime in the puritan community of 17th-century Boston. Hester becomes pregnant and must wear a scarlet “A” as a symbol of her sin. She is publicly shamed for her sin but refuses to tell who committed the sin with her. Dimmesdale does not admit that he is guilty and the guilt begins to torment him. His private guilt causes him to carve an “A”…

    • 1109 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Scarlet Letter Nature

    • 1983 Words
    • 8 Pages

    She is presented as nature’s playmate when she entertains herself in the forest. When in the Governor’s house, Pearl is overcome with “naughty merriment” – this house being the symbol for Puritanism and authority, it is significant that Pearl seems less agitated in more natural surroundings. Just as Puritanical society does not approve of Pearl in the novel, Pearl is made just as uncomfortable in the presence of Puritanical society. This might be because Pearl is the product of a natural union as opposed to a controlled, religious union, and the animosity directed towards her in the town is absent in the forest as it is almost as if nature is approving of the union. At one point in the novel, Pearl is insistent that Hester reattach the scarlet letter to her dress, “here again was the scarlet misery, glittering on the old spot!”.…

    • 1983 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Marry, I trow not!” These women speak as though they have never sinned in their lives and don’t consider an option to reform her. These women’s “utopian” society is comprised of conformists that harshly exile those who don’t conform. The women are not the only ones; Bellingham is one of the powerful men of the town who lives well beyond how Puritans are suppose to live. The criticism and hate towards Hester presents the town as extremely hypocritical because they pursue harsh punishment for Hester while breaking their own rules. Hester finds herself secluded from the town and living in the forest with her daughter.…

    • 1183 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    As the novella progresses, Charity openly opposes the expectations society places on her. She refuses to abide by the restrictions about male and female interaction, as her affair with Harney evinces, and her opinion concerning North Dormer radically alters. Suddenly, North Dormer, like Royall, appears to represent every restriction she’s felt in life and the Mountain no longer seems to be a source of shame, but one of comfort and freedom. At this point in the plot, Charity possesses the strongest emotions toward North Dormer and the Mountain. Charity views North Dormer as possessing “all its mean curiosities, its furtive malice, its sham unconsciousness of evil” (238).…

    • 1138 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    She even ridiculed him in her mind and was a little ashamed of the association.. She couldn’t make him look just like any other man to her. He looked like the love thoughts of women. He could be a bee to a blossom – a pear tree blossom in the spring. He seemed to be crushing scent out of the world with his footsteps...”(106 Hurston). After her last marriage, Janie felt as if being single and not having love is the best way to find happiness in life because she was so free.…

    • 1650 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The scarlet letter is something that Hester can never get rid of, and is stuck with for the rest of her life. Even if she feels she has paid for her sins “who had some comfortable hope of pardon of [her] sin” (Winthrop). The Letter also brings about a lot of public humiliation to Hester, “under the heavy weight of a thousand unrelenting eyes” (Hawthorne 70). Hester can not do anything within the town, without being watched and judged for her actions even if she acts with the upmost Christian puritan poise. The townsfolk religion caused them to believe “that sinners… were born condemned to spend an eternity in hell” ( COME BACK ).…

    • 969 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    I believe that Hawthorne presents three important truths about sin through his portrayal of Pearl. One, sin comes with consequences. Because of Hester’s sin, she is taunted and tortured by Pearl. Two, sin is never for one’s own good. When Hester takes off the scarlet letter in the woods, she feels free, but Pearl, in seeing this joy in her mother, is unhappy and forces the weight back upon her mother.…

    • 935 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Gothic Romance, The Scarlet Letter, encircles Boston society during the era of Puritanism. Hawthorne introduces Hester Prynne on the town scaffold, wearing her stamp of shame—the scarlet letter—and holds her infant tight in fear of being punished for committing adultery. The infant, Pearl Prynne, flourishes into a stubborn, wild-child whose clever and inquisitive nature exceeds any child her age. While Pearl is confined within a bubble of solitude, she is left to wonder about the identity of her unknown father. Pearl is shunned by the children in Boston, and she seeks comfort in the forest that is free from the corrupt Puritan society.…

    • 1067 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    She also takes the blame for her father’s punishment because if he would have never picked the rose from the garden he wouldn’t have gotten in trouble and gotten himself in this awful predicament. Also, in all of the stories Belle isn’t like her sisters in that she is not infatuated with riches and material items. This makes her more beautiful in the sense that she would rather be reading a book or going exploring in the forest rather than wearing beautiful ball gowns or looking at fine jewelry. She remains a down-to-earth type of person throughout the entirety of the story which makes her a very unique…

    • 1698 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The hypocritical Puritan society marginalises Hester at “every gesture, every word implied that she was banished”, her existence is simply a crime. Hester assumes her old identity making herself invisible by wearing plain clothing however she refuses to submit to society’s persecutions. Pearl is another source of scrutiny for Hester “as being of great price”, Pearl has caused Hester to lose everything socially and physically. Pearl is a symbolic embodiment of Hester’s sin and a metaphor for the crime she has committed. Pearl has caused Hester to lose her reputation, community and religion making her and outsider.…

    • 1205 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays