Is Hester Prynne ultimately a heroic figure? Make sure to support your argument with textual support, as well as a clear definition of what it means to be a hero.
No, in the end, Hester Prynne only came close to undoing a past mistake. Her actions turned a once brilliant man into a demon and both mentally, physically, and spiritually deteriorated (and eventually killed) a righteous pastor. A hero is defined as one who possesses noble qualities, such as courage, or performs an outstanding achievement to help or save others. Although the reader may commend Hester for revitalising Dimmesdale with their plan to escape in chapter 18, Hester herself admits that she is the source for all of his trouble on pages 141-143 by regretting her choice to keep Chillingworth’s secret. In the same passage, Hester also admits that Chillingworth used to be “kind, true, [and] just” and became a monster because of her. Even Dimmesdale’s salvation in confessing his sin in chapter 23 has little to do with Hester, but rather Dimmesdale’s own solution to his problem. In chapter 24, Hester and Pearl survive after both Dimmesdale and Chillingworth die. Rather than conveying Hester as a hero, Hawthorne characterizes her as someone still atoning for her sins, counseling young women with similar problems (215).
Does Dimmesdale’s public confession undo or make up for his years of s...
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...iness, Pearl’s success and gifts that she later shares with her mother transforms her into a blessing rather than a “living punishment” for her mother. When Chillingworth dies on pages 212 and 213, his death soon after Dimmesdale’s is fitting because it completes his the theme of a cycle of deterioration due to the psychological effects induced by an obsessive need for revenge. Hester’s isolation and counseling during her later years fits her theme of atoning for her sin by serving her community, using the lessons she learned from the whole ordeal to help others through similar situations (215). Finally, Dimmesdale’s ending is fitting because he finally receives the release that he was begging for (109). His peace as he dies materializes his earlier descriptions of the sweet relief he would feel when he was finally able to lift this burden off of his shoulders (209).
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