The Power Of Hester Prynne In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, a female protagonist named Hester Prynne is subjected to public humiliation and alienation from the Puritan society because she committed adultery. This “sinful” act is further enhanced when her husband, Roger Chillingworth, comes to Boston, and Hester is forced to keep the secret identities of her lover, Arthur Dimmesdale, and her husband concealed from the community. Over the course of her seven-year journey, she becomes more independent, more free, and a model of feministic power to the Freudian society that had once marked her bosom with the letter “A” to shame her. Hawthorne depicts the contrasting views of the patriarchal Puritan society, which is characterized by the town and Dimmesdale against…show more content…
This time period also saw rising tensions against widows and church members that would disobey. Individuals who defied the Puritan leaders would often be exiled. (Campbell, 2013, 2015; Hallenbeck, 2002). Hester Prynne is the prime example of these two aspects as she is publicly humiliated because of her “sinful” passion. In the narrative, it states, “… the heavy weight of a thousand unrelenting eyes, all fastened upon her… she felt, at moments, as if she must needs shriek out with the full power of her lungs, and cast herself from the scaffold down upon the ground, or else go mad at once” (Hawthorne 40). This event leads to the seclusion of Hester Prynne and her daughter, Pearl, from society (Gayatri, 2014). At first, it seems like a religious victory for the Puritans, but as time goes on we see Hester developing into an independent woman away from the Freudian society which tried to conceal her and her sin. Even though the Puritanical society exiles her from their community, Hester represents the strength in women by not letting her past actions decide her future (Symbols, Society and the Individual). Over time, she is reflective of her actions and develops into a charitable, and able person. In the narrative, it states, “Such helpfulness was found in her, —so much power to do, and power to…show more content…
Dimmesdale is the town minister and is a talented orator. He is seen as a powerful figure in his community, and as a result of this, he is the essence of what the patriarchal society is in this time period. The downfall of his character comes when he succumbs to the guilt due to being an adulterer with Hester Prynne. This is illustrated by his deprecating physical health which is a representation of his poor spiritual and mental wellbeing. It states in the narrative, “He looked haggard and feeble, and betrayed a nerveless despondency in his air… Here it was woefully visible, in this intense seclusion of the forest, which of itself would have been a heavy trial to the spirits” (Hawthorne, 129). Hawthorne depicts Hester as the individual to finally make Dimmesdale free of guilt by confessing in order to demonstrate the need for feminist qualities in a patriarchal society (Thomson, 2011). It states, “At last… I stand upon the spot where, seven years since, I should have stood; here, with this woman, whose arm, more than the little strength wherewith I have crept hitherward, sustains me, at this dreadful moment, from groveling down upon my face!” (Hawthorne 174). Hawthorne demonstrates with the culmination of the novel—the importance of feminism not only to the empowerment of the individual but also as a force of change to the norms of our society (Hester Prynne: Sinner,

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