The Scarlet Letter And Wilderness And The Mind Feminist Analysis

Superior Essays
We live in a world that has continuously assigned a predetermined value to specific things, people, and groups, as a way to create social order and establish a feeling of certainty among humans, who thrive on the feelings of superiority, security, and comfort. These are all feelings that social constructs concoct because they rely on putting people into boxes and labelling them as something they should be, which in turn, benefits one’s own mind because we exclude things that are unfamiliar to us and thus, take power away from them. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Wilderness and the American Mind by Roderick Frazier Nash, one is able to discern a connection between the role women play in Puritan society as the product of a socially …show more content…
This idea is best exemplified when the author writes: “The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, - stern and wild ones, - and they had made her strong” (Hawthorne 184). Here, we can see that Hester Prynne is able to turn the “scarlet letter” into a symbol of self-empowerment, thus defeating the purpose of her society labelling her as an outcast of womanhood as a way to attempt to control her “wildness.” In this way, Hester is able to hold power and independence, as her decision to act in defiance to the established view of femininity puts her in a unique “region” never explored by other women of her society. She turns the letter of shame into something compelling and influential that enables her to discover the necessity in breaking loose from society’s constructs, a sensitive spot “[no other] women dared tread” because they are afraid of being paralleled to “wilderness” and its negative connotations. The use of the word “wild” is further representative of the way Puritan society views her, because she represents difference and nature’s lawlessness. Although Hester’s actions are associated with “shame,” “despair,” and “solitude” by others, she makes her own independent decision to choose to be neither of the identities prescribed to women; neither a bad woman like Mistress Hibbins, nor the coveted typical woman fully aligned with God. The negative lense …show more content…
Hester Prynne’s actions that represent the beauty in “wilderness” and difference, has a positive effect on her fellow women once they are able to see that she is a strong, independent woman that can assist them in their own troubles. This idea is made evident when the author comments the following at the end of the novel: “the scarlet letter… became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe, yet with reverence too… Women, more especially, - in the continually recurring trials of wounded, wasted… came to Hester’s cottage, demanding why they were so wretched, and what the remedy” (Hawthorne 241). Through this passage, it is revealed that women of the society are able to accept Hester’s difference because they have cleared their minds of what they believe women should be. Furthermore, through Hester’s powerful actions of dealing with hardship, she is able to instill in them a feeling of self-empowerment and the idea of becoming the best people they could be after their most meager actions in society have been viewed “wretched[ly],” because of the expectations that women should be perfect and act according to the laws of God. Hester’s true definition of femininity inspires them to no longer feel like they are “unvalued” (Hawthorne 241) and “unsought” (Hawthorne 241), but rather that

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