Hester Prynne In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne tells the story of a young puritan woman, Hester Prynne, who commits adultery with a minister and bears a child into a small, judgmental town in the mid-1600s. The character of Hester Prynne changes a considerable amount throughout the novel. Although, three words that would undoubtedly describe her, are courageous, determined, and selfless.
The Scarlet Letter presents a tale of love and betrayal set within the seventeenth century in Puritan, New England. The Puritan community enforces a strict code by which individuals are expected to live by and by which they are judged harshly when they engage in behavior considered immoral. Hester Prynne, a young wife, violates her marriage while her husband is
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Viewed as an ungodly sinner by her peers, Hester is forced to demonstrate humility by wearing a scarlet letter “A” on her garment at all times. “She will be a living sermon against sin, until the ignominious letter be engraved upon her tombstone” (Hawthorne 1027). As if this is not punishment enough, Hester must endure the humiliation of displaying her iniquities on a platform in the market-place for all of the public to see and ridicule. With her daughter in her arms, Hester walks from her prison cell to the scaffold. She holds her head high, allowing not a single tear to fall from eyes. It is here, that her bravery is exemplified. Hester retains her composure throughout the entire ordeal. She is able to remain calm: “she had fortified herself to encounter the stings and venomous stabs of public” (Hawthorne 1025). Though suffering internally, Hester never complains, quits, or shows any other sign of weakness. The fact that she is able to endure this punishment alone proves the extreme courage that she …show more content…
Hester’s determination is shown in many ways. One of the earlier examples is when she decides to remain in Massachusetts, despite being publically humiliated and forced to wear a scarlet letter on her chest forever. “For so long a period not merely estranged, but outlawed, from society” (Hawthorne 1099). She could have easily tried to start a new life somewhere else. Yet she does not try to hide from her sins. Hester feels that running away or removing the letter would only be admitting that society controls her. Hester “chooses to live in Boston and continue to wear the scarlet letter on her breast, long after she has fulfilled her punishment” (Seabrook). She is determined to transform its meaning through her actions and her own perception of herself. She is determined that she and not society, will define her character. “The burden of shame and anguish departed from her spirit” (Hawthorne

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