Conformity In The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

1258 Words 6 Pages
Throughout the Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne explores themes of conformity through Hester Prynne´s various relationships. Hawthorne illustrates three relationships in which Hester can frequently be seen both conforming to and rejecting societal expectations regarding how a woman should act, and for different purposes. As is demonstrated throughout the novel, Hester will -by nature- resist norms and expectations, but can be seen conforming when doing so will ultimately benefit her. Hester frequently conforms by means of appeasing someone of a higher power, to create a bridge of trust between them. As is reflected in her relationships with the Puritan church, Roger Chillingworth and Arthur Dimmesdale, Hester only conforms to expectations …show more content…
In itself, committing adultery is considered sin of a high degree, and Hester’s subsequent “badge of shame”, the scarlet letter, was to forever remind her of her misguided actions (98). The scarlet letter was not to celebrate adultery, but continue to punish Hester for refusing to comply with Puritan norms and engage in a sexual relationship with a man with whom she wasn’t married. Hester had the opportunity to accept the Scarlet letter as a form of punishment, but instead, she strayed from what was expected of her and “so fantastically embroidered” the scarlet letter “upon her bosom”(51). As was typical in Puritan society, anything that inspired happiness was to be considered sin and, in life, there was a general lack of color. For Hester to “fantastically” embroider a punishment upon her chest “in fine red cloth” with “flourishes of gold-thread” and apparent pride, she opposed the wishes of the Puritan church that the letter would teach her to be embarrassed by her sin (50). In contrast to Hester actively protesting societal norms of Puritan life is her continual faith in the church. No matter being ridiculed or straying far from teachings, Hester remains faithful to guidance and values …show more content…
The relationship itself is based in sin and opposing societal expectations all together, which is demonstrated clearly in the couple 's actions regarding each other. Initially, Hester and Dimmesdale share the common power dynamic of the time. Dimmesdale held ¨the responsibility of this woman 's soul¨, and was charged with helping Hester to ¨confess the truth¨ about the affair (62). He was essentially in charge of her, and was supposed to direct her towards penitence and holiness once again. Hester refuses to share who was her partner in adultery, complying with Dimmesdale´s wishes to remain unexposed. Here, Hester joins Dimmesdale´s side, as she wishes to keep his love active. Hester has to appease Dimmesdale in order to continue a relationship as well as not discredit him as a minister. In the eyes of the public, Hester remains Dimmesdale´s inferior until his subsequent death, but is far earlier redefined as the opposite. After pretending for years that Dimmesdale had religious wake and power over Hester just for being a male minister, the truth about their relationship emerges. Upon reuniting in the woods, the two confess their love and, subsequently, the power dynamic flips. Directly rejecting Puritan expectations, Hester becomes the dominant partner in the relationship as Dimmesdale asks her to¨"’Think for´¨ him,

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