Hester Prynne And Sulla And Toni Morrison's The Scarlet Letter

Superior Essays
When reading a book, readers quickly label characters as heroes or villains. However, some author’s make this categorizing process very difficult by introducing complex characters. While these types of characters are more realistic, for they resemble real people by being difficult to understand, they challenge the reader’s understanding. The complexity of such characters’ force readers to question the meaning of labels such as ‘hero’ or ‘villain’. Likewise, both Nathaniel Hawthorn, author of The Scarlet Letter, and Toni Morrison, author of Sula, force their readers to question the meaning of the word ‘hero’ through their main characters: Hester Prynne and Sula Peace. These books depict Hester Prynne and Sula Peace as sinful or evil. However, …show more content…
This view of the women alienates them from society. While Hester experiences a public shaming, her true punishment is the wearing of the scarlet letter. The author describes the letter as “illuminating upon her” (Hawthorn, 51). This description of the letter as ‘illuminating’ conveys how it stands out and cannot be ignored. This flashy symbol separates Hester from society, for it stops her from blending in. Instead the symbol “[encloses] her in a sphere by herself” by preventing anyone from relating to her or her situation. This lack of connection to those around her further isolates her from society. Similar to Hester, Sula’s society also isolates her because of her traumatic experience. After Sula watches her mother burn to death, the towns people being to believe that she is evil. Eva confronts Sula about the fire when she says, “you watched your own mamma. You crazy roach!” (Morrison, 93). Eva’s outburst captures her own thought as well as the thoughts of the people throughout town, for many people saw Sula as strange after her mother’s death. The town further express its opinion of Sula when she returns to town, for people call that time the “evil days” (Morrison, 89). This name confirms that the town’s people believe Sula is evil. Furthermore, this label created by the town, similar to the scarlet letter, isolates Sula from society, for people separate themselves from her out of fear. …show more content…
The Oxford dictionary defines a hero as “a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities”. For example, Hester’s decision to run away demonstrates her refusal to adhere to puritan law (Hawthorn, 181). This decision illustrates the qualities of a hero, for she bravely rejects the social standards because they are unfair. Similarly, while readers may have the urge to overlook characters like Sula, by further analyzing her character one realizes that her complexity hides an unexpected hero. Sula’s decision to stand up to Nel, her best friend, and the society within which she lives illustrates clear courage and bravery-- admired qualities of a hero. Their decisions to stand up for themselves by questioning social norms allow these women to prove themselves as heroines in their individual

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