Ignominy In Joan Of Arc And The Scarlet Letter By Kathryn Hawthorne

2021 Words 9 Pages
Individuals often reject others with divergent views, however, they frequently have good intentions that benefit people for the better. A professor at John Hopkins University exclaims, “Rejection confirms for independent people what they already feel […] that they 're not like others.” (Wrenn) The biography, Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured by Kathryn Harrison and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne display the aspect of ignominy which the authors demonstrate through both of their plots. In The Scarlet Letter, the town where Hester Prynne lives excludes her from society due to her adulterous action, and in Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured, people around her shame her for failing to maintain a woman’s role, to save her country. In each …show more content…
When she commits adultery with her husband’s location unknown, the town turns against her and condemns her to a life of punishment. This is evident as a townswoman exclaims “This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die.” (Hawthorne 53-54) The town believes the aspect of adultery is a great sin. Instead of death, however, they make her stand on a platform, and have to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her bosom. This shows how the town is unsupportive of her actions, as they are unable to see her virtuous intent. Hester decides to not leave the town, and maintain her individuality while in the grasp of a judgemental society. A famous Biblical verse states “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (The New King James Version, Matthew 7:2) Ignoring this aspect of their religion, the town fails to disregard Hester’s sin to see the good in her actions, such as her ability to maintain her strong sense of self. Hester does not reveal the man who she commits adultery with. Hawthorne outlines this as she exclaims “Madame Hester absolutely refuseth to speak, and the magistrates have laid their heads together in vain. ”(Hawthorne 105) Although the town thinks this is sinful, she does it out of respect of herself and to protect him. This reveals that although this action seems to be selfish, it helps Hester …show more content…
Hester’s first struggle is her sinful action of adultery, as although she shows upstanding citizenship in her aid of the town, and selfless nature, the townspeople cannot forget about her great sin. The scarlet letter she wears is an obstacle in itself, as even if one was not to know what is means, they understand its abnormality which forbids her the ability to have an ordinary relationship with anyone. This is apparent as Hawthorne states “Children, too young to comprehend wherefore this woman should be shut out from the sphere of human charities, would creep nigh enough to behold her plying her needle at the cottage-window.” (Hawthorne 84) This shows that the people around her believe she is unusual, and of interest to watch, as if she is not mortal. This aspect of her individuality makes it very difficult for the town to recognize her admirable actions. Hester’s independent, stubborn nature is an obstacle that she faces on a daily basis as she refuses to lessen her punishment by leaving. She wishes to endure pain until her death, or until God removes the letter. (Hawthorn 94) This shows her virtuous ability to be selfless, as she feels it is a fair punishment. This prevents others from seeing her benevolence, as she herself believes in her sin and punishment, which does not make others question it. Although the obstacles Joan and Hester

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