Feminists are independent individuals that stand against the given norms of society. Throughout history, there are many examples of these strong individuals that help innovate society forward. Because Puritan society greatly suppressed many women, feminism is quite impossible at that time. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hawthorne explores the life of Hester Prynne, a young puritan woman involved in an affair. Throughout the book, Hester Prynne expresses her potential to become an early feminist and at times is, however her love for Arthur Dimmesdale holds her back from attaining her full feminist potential.
Throughout the course of history, the concept of women being subordinate to men has always existed. However, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, a woman named Hester Prynne tries to break prejudicial notions against women in a patriarchal society. In the story, Hester commits the crime of adultery and is sentenced by the government to wear a scarlet letter as it symbolizes ignominy. Since she lives in Puritan New England, the people do not value women a lot, her actions becomes a sight of public scrutiny. Yet, with her strength as a woman, she is able to not only survive the situation, but also reverse as she later becomes an important member of their community. In a feminist perspective of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter,
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a novel filled with many symbolic references that reflect not only the issues/concerns of the Puritan era but also of similar issues of his own time period, which Hawthorne reveals his personal opinions on. One example of said issues evident in his work is the Puritan society’s view/treatment of women, which he appears to express contempt for through the use of his character Hester Prynne. However, even though Hawthorne appears to not be in favor of how the Puritan government perceives/deals with women, he also doesn’t seem to be willing to allow the equally involved patriarchal system to be challenged or abolished since it works in a man’s favor and at times he even concurs with society in terms
I do believe that Hester is a strong female character and a good representation of what it means to be a feminist. From the way she carries herself in this desperate time to her unwillingness to let Dimmesdale take the fall with her, she is the perfect example of feminism and poise. Poise isn’t always a word used to describe an adulteress but Hester’s ability to remain an amazing role model for her daughter and to stay calm and graceful throughout the book really earns her the title. In a sexist, controlling, god driven Puritan society Hester was able to survive and even thrive having committed one of the worst crimes of the time period. Only a woman with the upmost amount of grace and self-belief would be able to make the most out of that
Hester Prynne remains a living force of feminist strength as she stands between the literary arguments of Hawthorne’s possible intentions of portraying his protagonist as either a central figure of feminist empowerment for women, in retrospect to the interpretations of his views on feminism of the timeframe, or a woman oppressed by her sins under the tyranny of puritanical injustice. While some argue for Hester’s feminist virtues without closer introspection of her literary creator, much could be discerned regarding Hester’s feminine presence by speculating that Hawthorne wrote Hester as the feminine version of himself trapped within the injustices of a patriarchal world. There is no doubt, that by entertaining the possibility of Hawthorne as Hester, a compelling argument has already been made by the literary critics for the heroic feminism of Hester. Through a brief analysis of Hawthorne’s role as Hester within The Scarlet Letter, ambiguity transforms into a multidimensional representation of a strong intellectual woman struggling against opposing forces that are created by the injustices of a patriarchal society and that are resisted by the unique and powerfully effectual tactic of silence.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne was written in the 1850´s. His Transcendental work shows the difficulties during the Puritan time period. During the time women were seen as inferior to men, also the religious beliefs were very well guarded. Throughout the book we see examples of Hester Prynne being a symbol for what all females are today. Hawthorne's book draws many themes to Femininity, which is the belief that men and women should be treated equally, whether it be socially or politically. Within the Scarlet Letter Hawthorne tries to make equal ties through men and women, but ultimately fails. The Scarlet letter is not a feminist book.  Throughout the book Hester Prynne is seen as an adulterous women. All the citizens in town
In The Scarlet Letter, the main protagonist Hester Prynne is quite a strong woman handling all these trials basically on her own. The author Nathaniel Hawthorne depicts Hester without many of the stereotypes that we know to have been in women's lives I would hope that those stereotypes have been long since buried, but sadly some still remain. Although there are many differences as to how women were treated in the time of the puritans, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s time period, and our own generation. I would hope to show that Hester Prynne defies the stereotypes pinned on her by the time frame.
Hester Prynne, protagonist of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, can be described as a feminine seductress. D.H. Lawrence paints her as an independent woman who seduces the reader into believing that she is a heroine of a tragedy in his article “On the Scarlet Letter.”. He proves this most effectively through his lauding diction, poetic repetition, and heroic allusions.
However, the characters develop into strong willed characters that outlasted their male foils. Both male figures, Dimmesdale and Chillingworth, notably died before the two female figures. Hawthorne, if he truly hated feminism, could not have given the objectified and dehumanized female race the victory through Pearl and Hester’s overall success and redemption (Baym 548). Hawthorne may not have directly been a feminist, but he evidently sheds a keen light on the concept. Feminism does not limit itself to simply “female rights,” rather it embodies the unnatural defiance of oppressive authority and societal norms in order to achieve freedom. Specifically through Hester’s development from childlike sinner to a more mature woman does Hawthorne demonstrate the development of an immature individual into a more controlled, mature individual. Ironically, Hester-the early sinner- gives Dimmesdale-the higher public moral authority- spiritual advice: “Why shouldst thou tarry so much as one other day in the torments that have so gnawed into thy life… that will leave thee powerless even to repent” (Hawthorne 127-128). Hester’s spiritual development over higher, older, more revered authorities like Dimmesdale proves that instantaneous mistakes do not permanently hinder a person from righteous actions. She advises Dimmesdale to deviate from his old and “false life” and live a life free of fear or shame from the past. Hester’s testimony with her scarlet letter proves that her implicit belief in repentance and redemption to lowly people like her allows her to continue life beyond her shortcomings. If she allowed herself to face condemnation and believe the dehumanizing treatment from the Puritan society, her character would not only fail to defy
Reynolds, David S. “Hester and the Feminists of the 1840s.” Social Issues In Literature: Women’s Issues in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter. Ed. Elizabeth Des Chenes. Farmington Hills: Greenhaven Press, 2009. 57-66. Print.