Feminism In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Marie Shear once said, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings” (Feminism 101). The privileges women receive today are unlike the limited ones afforded to them in the Puritan society. Women were not viewed as strong, independent characters because that image was usually associated with men. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the main heroine, Hester, is an exception to the viewpoint of women being incompetent. Although the book is not entirely centered on women’s rights, The Scarlet Letter shows Hester as a courageous woman, and that contributes to the novel being perceived as feminist. Being strong was not a quality commonly affiliated with women, but Hester is nevertheless a strong woman in the period in …show more content…
Being without a husband, Hester Prynne does the tasks of both genders on her own. Although her public punishment leaves her with little in the way of customers, Hester still provides all the basic needs for her family. Because Prynne commits the crime of adultery, her sentence requires her to bear the burden of wearing a red, scarlet “A” for the rest of her days. To don such an object of ridicule in the highly judgmental Puritan society must have been completely overwhelming, but Hester bravely does it in spite of it all. Even when given the opportunity to remove the “A,” Hester declines. As a result of her sinful endeavor, she gives life to her daughter Pearl. The fatherless child is different from most of the kids in the village, and she is insubordinate towards her mother. First and foremost, Pearl’s behavior is compared to that of an elf’s, and she is often referred to as being evil. “Hester sometimes burst into passionate tears. Then, …show more content…
The rights of women were nonexistent and were far away to be prevalent. For a male author like Nathaniel Hawthorne to write a novel in which the main character is a strong female was unheard of. Egalitarian feminism was “centered on women as independent agents rather than wives and mothers” (Sommers 2). This is the type of feminism that is portrayed in The Scarlet Letter. Hester bravely raises a child alone and after her crime, people only view her as a sinful woman. Hester is now no longer looked upon as an equal Puritan woman. People began judging Hester, and they make her a social outcast for the crime she commits. At the end of the novel, Hester is talking to the counsel, and the book states, “She assured them, too, of her firm belief, that, at some brighter period, when the world should have grown ripe for it, in Heaven 's own time, a new truth would be revealed, in order to establish the whole relation between man and woman on a surer ground of mutual happiness" (Hawthorne 239). Feminism stands up for women who are treated unequally such as Hester was in her own society. Hester knows that society is unfair, but she is hopeful that the world will change one

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