From the first scene on the scaffold, Hester’s scarlet letter and her intense grief define her character through a shameful tone. Her A thoroughly isolates her and Pearl from the world around them, even in a crowd of familiar faces. Standing on the scaffold, the scarlet letter burns brighter than anything else about Hester and her life, revealing the great effects that it will leave on her. Hawthorne describes Hester’s letter as having “the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself” (Hawthorne 51). Not only the aura of Hester’s isolation, but the deep contrast between her public humiliation and Dimmesdale’s closeted sin embody the mood. In this scene, Hester’s grief and her longing to share Dimmesdale’s position intensify.
Contributing to the continuity of Hester’s ignominy, she attempts to mask her disgraceful sin with Pearl, who acts as a barrier between the world and Hester despite her young age. As Hester stands in front of the whole town, she only has her daughter, Pearl, to grasp and love. Pearl accepts Hester, unlike many others, which causes their connection to grow stronger. In both a loving...
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...k into the soil” (Hawthorne 74). Although she no longer receives cold stares or mockery in the marketplace, Hester professes lonesomeness in an entirely new manner. She lives an independent lifestyle, one of which satisfies her, as opposed to acquiring public shame. Self actualizing Hester’s life and her place in this world, she reaches authentic happiness and captivates the sympathy of her audience.
Through symbolism, imagery, and figurative language, Nathaniel Hawthorne manifests Hester Prynne as a complex character, one with various personality traits and levels of emotional attachment. As her story evolves, literary devices enhance its meaning from one of guilt and shame to one that carries euphoria and sentiment at its roots. Character changes and evolving uses of symbolism create an academic ambience, composing the historical quality of The Scarlet Letter.
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