Changes of Hester Prynne in Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter

analytical Essay
495 words
495 words

In Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the reader meets the character Hester Prynne who as the novel progresses, one notices the changes in her character are very dramatic. The changes are both physical and in her mannerism’s. There are many significant events which took place before the start of the novel and during the novel. Some of these events that lead to this dramatic change include the affect of wearing the scarlet letter, the secrets which she keeps, and her daughter Pearl’s evil characteristics. By these events, Hester Prynne’s image is transformed throughout the time of the story.

As Hester wears the scarlet letter, the reader can feel how much of an outcast Hester becomes. When walking through town, “…she never raised her head to receive their greeting. If they were resolute to accost her, she laid her finger on the scarlet letter and passed on” (Hawthorne, 127).She believes that she is not worthy of the towns acknowledgments and chooses to ignore them. The guilt that now rests in Hester is overwhelming to her and is a reason of her change in personality.

The secrets which Hester keeps are because she is silent and hardly talks to anyone. “Various critics have interpreted her silence… as both empowering… and disempowering… Yet silence, in Hester’s case, offers a type of passive resistance to male probing” (Elbert, 258). One may refer back to the scene at the beginning when Reverend Wilson is trying to get the name of the other sinner. As Hester refuses, one may see this as a foreshadowing for other events. Hester is a strong woman who would not tell a soul the secrets that interconnect Dimmesdale and Chillingworth. The secrets however begin to take a toll of Hester especially as Chillingworth comes to town and is dying to know who the father of Pearl is.

As a living reminder of Hester’s extreme sin, Pearl is her constant companion. From the beginning Pearl has always been considered as an evil child. For Hester to take care of such a demanding child, put lots of stress onto her life. Hester at times was in a state of uncontrollable pressure. “Gazing at Pearl, Hester Prynne often dropped her work upon her knees, and cried out with an agony which she would fain have hidden, but which made utterance for itself, betwixt speech and a groan, ‘O Father in heaven- if Thou art still my Father- what is this being which I have brought into the world!’” (Hawthorne, 77).

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes the dramatic changes in hester prynne's character in nathanial hawthorne’s the scarlet letter.
  • Analyzes how hester wears the scarlet letter and becomes an outcast. she believes that she is not worthy of the towns acknowledgments and ignores them.
  • Analyzes how hester's silence offers a passive resistance to male probing. she refuses to tell anyone the secrets that interconnect dimmesdale and chillingworth.
  • Analyzes how hester prynne's constant companion, pearl, reminds her of her extreme sin. the physical movements of taking care of pearl cause her to age faster.
  • Concludes that the change in hester takes a lot out of her physical appearance and her mental state. the events that take place within her life consist of ones that many readers will never experience.
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