What Is The Significance Of Adultery In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

1613 Words 7 Pages
Canadian director David Cronenberg once said, “When you're in the muck you can only see muck. If you somehow manage to float above it, you still see the muck but you see it from a different perspective. And you see other things too. That's the consolation of philosophy.” Having many perspectives will give you a greater knowledge of life. To only see through one perspective would make you ignorant of the other sides of the die. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s dark romance novel The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne must suffer the consequence of adultery in Puritan society and wear a scarlet ‘A’ embroidered on her chest as a badge of shame. Throughout The Scarlet Letter, we see through the eyes of Puritan society as Hester endures public discrimination …show more content…
Hester’s daughter, Pearl, is part of the consequence of her affair with Dimmesdale; she acts as a living adaptation of the Hester’s penitence – Pearl is an extension of the letter and only aids as another reminder of Hester’s adultery, “But it was a remarkable attribute of this garb, and indeed, of the child’s whole appearance...It was the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed with life!” (p. 93) The affiliation with the scarlet letter and Pearl Prynne is presented in Pearl’s character. She is often described as an elfish child, or a “witch-baby”. On a superficial level, Pearl simply represents sin, as she is the product of such an act. Yet, Pearl represents passion on a more positive and deeper level, which is seen in her spirited, almost other-worldly demeanor. Hawthorne presents passion as something that is dangerous or bad, as Pearl is the result of what would be considered such. Pearl’s passionate personality creates a barrier between her and the Puritan children, and as a result, alienates herself along with her mother. Despite the detriment of Hester’s separation with the Puritan, Pearl sees the letter as something positive. The scarlet letter was a part of Hester since Pearl first acknowledged it as a baby, and can only recognize Hester when she wears it. Pearl is compassionate of her mother, and obviously dislikes the …show more content…
Hester Prynne lived what would be considered the most burdensome years of her life with a badge that brought shame upon her, yet she wore it with determination, and refused to run away from the social tension. Hester remained in Boston and eventually altered the meaning behind the red badge, “The scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the world’s scorn and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe, yet with reverence too.” (p. 243) The people of Boston eventually saw Hester durability against their ridicule, which caused a change of heart. Had she fled the town, Hester would have shown that the Puritan society was a force that was capable of controlling her, and therefore let the scarlet letter shadow over her. Regardless, Hester lives her life with the letter honorably and turns the scarlet letter into a symbol of strength. Hester may have been a sinner, but she was a selfless and generous woman who wanted to help those in need. She did not let the letter stop her from doing so even if people turned her away because of it. But when the people began to see Hester as a strong woman who endured hardships, they began to come to her for help, “And, as Hester Prynne had no selfish ends, nor lived in

Related Documents