Essay On The Role Of Women In The Scarlet Letter

1255 Words 6 Pages
For centuries, females have been forced into limiting and objectified roles in the human race. The restricting standards of being morally righteous and accepting of the physical conformity expected of them prevent women from being individualistic. This is seen in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, where Hester Prynne’s originality is crushed by society’s expectations when being punished for a sin committed out of passion. In the novel “The Scarlet Letter,” author Nathaniel Hawthorne illustrates through the physical and mental transformation of Hester Prynne how the constant presence of standards placed on women by society in regard to morals and appearance eventually pressure those considered different to repress what made them …show more content…
The Puritan society is composed of women expected to be suitable wives and mothers who abide to the rules and do not appear different. These women are unattractive, dull, and uninspired. Over time, there became “a coarser fiber in those wives and maidens. . . every successive mother has transmitted to her child of fainter bloom a more delicate and briefer beauty. . .” (48). The average Puritan woman has lost what makes her beautiful through the years and has ended up blending in with everyone else. Their appearance is “delicate and brief,” exemplifying how their beauty is not apparent, and in fact not present. Initially, Hester contains a factor of surprise as viewed by the Puritan society, as she is a young woman who committed an act of adultery and now has a child, but continues to remain physically attractive. Although she is being punished for her sin of passion, it is easily recognized that Hester is very pretty, as “the young woman was tall… had dark and abundant hair, so glossy that it threw off sunshine with a gleam. . .” (50). This beauty that revolves around Hester is something rarely seen in her Puritan society, and frankly, is something generally not accepted nor appreciated. Her hair that “threw off sunshine with a gleam” subtly resembles a halo, …show more content…
Her passion and drive set her apart from the rest, but she conforms to the rest of the female society by adhering to their norm.
Topic Sentence #5: Although Hester initially held powerful and hopeful traits, her transformation in both physicality and mental state leads her to a downward spiral in which she is held back from ever returning to her original self. Hester’s entire life and all she has ever known has been left behind in her past Puritan society, and she recognizes that “[it] had been her sin, her sorrow, and here was yet to be her penitence. She had returned, therefore, and resumed of her own free will. . .” (233). Hester has made the conscious decision to return to the very place that has stripped her of her identity. Even after reaching a state of redemption, in this case the exposure of her and Dimmesdale’s secret, Hester will never be able to come back from the conformation she has made to society’s standards. Even after so much time has passed, Hester is still left dwelling on her past. Her life has become a full circle, as she regressed to simply “. . . a tall woman, in a gray robe, [who approaches] the cottage-door” (233). Hester has fallen victim to

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