The Heroine Of Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter Essay

The Heroine Of Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter Essay

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Hester Prynne is the heroine of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, where she proves to be an incendiary figure in her community, as the presence of the A on her garment is an incessant reminder of her transgression. A strict, religious community does not tolerate the transgression that is Hester’s sin. A fellow villager states “Marry, good Sir, in some two years, or less…no tiding have come of this learned gentleman, Master Prynne; and his young wife, look you, being left to her own misguidance…” (485). Hester is guilty of adultery, for she could not have produced a child otherwise. Hester’s sin undermines the expectations of her as a Puritan and as a woman. The community relies on every member honoring Christian virtues and values, and Hester’s indiscretion is seen as an evil ready to run rampant amongst the community. Hester also refuses to implicate Dimmesdale as her fellow sinner, as she says “Never!…And would that I might endure his agony, as well as mine!” (488). In neglecting to put blame on Dimmesdale, Hester brings greater scorn upon herself. She refuses to identify the other sinner, and therefore prevents the community from attempting to mend what they perceive as a big problem.
The norms that Hester transgresses are established by the Puritan interpretation of Christianity. Adultery is a sin punishable by death, but due to Dimmesdale’s interference, Hester is able to receive a lighter punishment. An incensed woman of the community states “Goodwives, I’ll tell ye a piece of my mind. It would be for the public behoof, if we women, being of mature age and church-members in good repute, should have the handling of such malefactresses as this Hester Prynne…would she come off with such a sentence as the worshipful magistrates h...


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...ome to a time where there will be more sympathy and understanding for their plight.
The triumph of Rip Van Winkle and Hester Prynne asserts the power of the individual in a populace set against that individual. They both have to persevere the attempt to undermine their transgressions and the identities that come with them. Once they do so, Hester and Rip are able to take the experience earned from that struggle to enrich the livelihood of their communities. Time is an important factor that works in the favor of both characters. As time passes, the obstacles that have been put before begin to dissipate, allowing them to continue on with their lives and goals. By refusing to diffuse their transgression from themselves, Rip and Hester demonstrate the power that transgression can have in shaping the individual, and how that individual can then shape their communities.

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