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Feminism In The Scarlet Letter

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Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economics. Women and men should ultimately be treated as equals. The feminist movement came from radical feminism and cultural feminism. These movements heightened respect for women. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter can be analyzed through a feminist lens. To do this, one must look at the characters, men and women in general, and symbols. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses Hester Prynne to defy the social norms of Puritan Boston and show the strength women possess. He uses Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth to show the weakness men hold. He uses Pearl to represent much more than a result of sin. Additionally, he uses the scarlet letter to symbolize more than just adulterer. The novel takes place in Puritan Boston; a time when women were considered inferior. In the Puritan times women were considered powerless, gossips, and taught to serve husband, the church, and family. Men are respected figures in the community, and they are to be the ones with wisdom and knowledge. However, Nathaniel Hawthorne shows us through his characters that women and men do not fulfill the roles society gives them. Hester Prynne is an adulteress. As punishment, she is forced to wear a scarlet ‘A’ on her chest. Prynne’s lover, Arthur Dimmesdale works as a minister and cannot cope with his own sin. When Prynne’s husband, Robert Chillingworth returns, he is filled with vengeance. Prynne and Dimmesdale have a daughter out of wedlock named Pearl. To view The Scarlet Letter through a feminist lens, we must look at the actions and thoughts of Hester Prynne, Roger Chillingworth, and Arthur Dimmesdale as well as the scarlet ‘A’ and Pearl as symbo...

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...ed at the time. We must look at the characters and symbols in the story as well. By looking at the males in the story, Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth we view the moral weaknesses males hold. Although men were considered higher up than women, we can look at their actions and understand that they are flawed. To find out more about the feminism in The Scarlet Letter we must look at the symbols of Pearl and the scarlet ‘A.’ While looking at these symbols we understand that manmade objects don’t mean as much than the guidance of nature. Lastly, Hester Prynne defies all male authority and laws of the Puritan way. She is a lady of honesty, compassion, intelligence, and independence. Prynne does not need to follow the way of the world, just what she believes in to be happy. Overall, you will find evidence of feminism throughout The Scarlet Letter multiple times.
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