The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Feminine Traits Essay

The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Feminine Traits Essay

Length: 1187 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter, establishes his views towards women in many ways through his strong, passionate characters. Despite this clear incorporation, when does an author’s opinion become confused with reality? Hawthorne clearly presents the heroine of the novel, Hester Prynne, as a contradiction to the typical woman of the 1800’s. Hawthorne sees Hester as a strong woman and presents her actions and characteristics as righteous; however his opinion of a strong woman is flawed. Hester’s seemingly honorable actions can interpreted as unrighteous by a modern reader. This proves the amount of progress that women have made in society since the novel was first written.
Hawthorne holds strong opinions about what he believes a strong woman should be. During the 1800’s when The Scarlet Letter was written, women did not have many rights. They were not seen as an independent entity outside of their husband because once married, the husband and wife are considered to be one person in law. Additionally, men were responsible for their wives, as he was to “answer for her misbehaviour…[and was] intrust[ed] with [the] power of restraining her…in the same moderation that a man [was] allowed to correct his servants or children” (Blackstone 249). Hawthorne uses the role that women played in society in the 1800’s to create Hester Prynne with contrasting characteristics that he believes makes her a strong woman. He uses words such as “bold…courage…untamed…intellect…free…[and] strong” to describe Hester as a virtuous woman (158). Hester first showcases this independence when she “repel[s] [the beadle], by an action marked with natural dignity and force of character” before she goes on the scaffold for the first time (57). H...


... middle of paper ...


...h counters the idea of Hester being a strong woman. Hawthorne’s presentation of Hester as a strong woman has served as a role-model of what the ideal woman should be. Thanks to Hawthorne’s character, Hester Prynne, the role of women in society has changed drastically over the years to create an equal existence with males.



Works Cited

de Tocqueville, Alexis. “From How the Americans Understand the Equality of the Sexes”
(1835).” The Scarlet Letter: Second Edition. Ed. Ross Murfin. Massachusetts: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006. 249-250. Print.
Blackstone, William. “From Of Husband and Wife (1795).” The Scarlet Letter: Second Edition.
Ed. Ross Murfin. Massachusetts: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006. 248-249. Print.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Scarlet Letter.” The Scarlet Letter: Second Edition. Ed. Ross
Murfin. Massachusetts: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006. 21-202. Print.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Scarlet Letter Essay

- Weak and powerless are so me of the words that describe women’s role in Puritan society. Men were the breadwinners and women were confined to the household. Most women lived their lives under the authority of men, but because of her unusual place in society Hester was able to overcome this. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne switches the typical male and female roles to prove that when given the opportunity, women can be strong and independent members of society. Hawthorne uses Hester’s reaction to her punishment of wearing the letter A, to show women can survive in society without being dependent on men....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
1105 words (3.2 pages)

Essay on The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorn

- The Scarlet Letter In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, the author, Nathaniel Hawthorn makes a commentary on the hypocrisy in the Puritan life style through his portrayal of his characters Arthur Dimmesdale, the town’s adored Puritan priest, and Hester Prynne, the ostracized sinner. Throughout the novel, Nathaniel Hawthorn depicts traits that contradict the Puritan’s ideas of how a defiled sinner and a proper Puritan priest should behave by the social conventions of their time. The author does this by illustrating Dimmesdale, who is supposed to be a righteous and holy person, as a sinful and cowardly man....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
1066 words (3 pages)

Essay on The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

- Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale in the novel, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, struggle to go about life. The characters Hester and Dimmesdale both are ostracized in the story and run into complications with the puritan society and how its morals affect them. The literary elements symbolism, imagery, and setting emphasize the motivations and reactions with the conflict of individual vs. society. The “A” or scarlet letter is the ultimate symbol of the entire novel. Initially, the letter symbolized shame then shifted later in time....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
1118 words (3.2 pages)

Essay on The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

- Opposition is prominent in literature and is often used to portray ideas that are completely different from each other. Such opposition can even be used to enforce both duality and paradoxical tones in a novel. In “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, he also uses this duality to describe the relationship between the two main male characters. Hawthorne focuses on the public and private lives of Dimmesdale and Chillingworth, and the paradoxical connection that they share. Dimmesdale, the town’s most loved preacher and most eligible bachelor, hides behind this mask of good by also being wrought by the guilt of being an adulterer....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
1412 words (4 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- The Scarlet Letter was published in 1850 and set during the 1640s in a community practicing puritan religion. The Scarlet Letter contains themes that connect to situations faced in modern times.The books helps the reader recognize how society has changed and what aspects have stayed the same. Such as the way people are shunned from society, how people grow and change because of society 's views, and the affect society has on the community. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s goal with The Scarlet Letter is to provide an understanding of the puritan religion for the reader as well as lessons of human nature....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Puritan]

Strong Essays
1446 words (4.1 pages)

Essay about Nathaniel Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter

- The Scarlet Letter in Regards to the Parable of the “Pearl of Great Price” Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter makes use of Biblical allusions to deepen its treatment of the moral superiority of Hester Prynne. Write an essay that explains how familiarity with the parable of the ‘pearl of great price’ from the book of Matthew helps the reader understand the overall meaning of Hawthorne’s novel. Highlight your thesis and claims in yellow. Staple your notes to the back of the essay. In the Book of Matthew, Jesus redefines many ordinances set out by God and speaks to the people mainly in parables, which is a story heavy in comparisons/analogies to teach a moral truth....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
1109 words (3.2 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- Throughout the infamous novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the reader is met with a lot of symbolism, from the rosebush to the scaffold and of course the most obvious symbol of them all, the scarlet letter “A”. While the most evident meaning or symbolism behind the scarlet letter “A” is that it stands for adultery, the scarlet letter can actually represent a lot more depending on the context it is placed in. Throughout the novel, the scarlet letter “A” morphs in meaning. The letter goes from standing for adultery, to strength, growth, ableness, power and much more....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
752 words (2.1 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- In the novel the Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the main character Hester Prynne sinned by committing adultery which changes her identity while she wears the Scarlet Letter. “In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity” (Erik Erikson). The way the scarlet letter defines Hester as someone who sinned in her society. The way that her society reacted to her with the scarlet letter, made her question her identity of who she is with the scarlet letter....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
1343 words (3.8 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- Nathaniel Hawthorne of Salem, Massachusetts was a descendant of a distant line of Puritan ancestors; however, his antecedent family history was not one he was proud of, as he persisted to be bedeviled with guilt, most notably from the renown John Hathorne of the Salem witch trials. He, as a consequence, wrote The Scarlet Letter to articulate his message on the extreme and austere type of Puritan legalism, society’s outlook of an adultery child, the individual reconciliation of a sinful act in the Puritan society, and, all from the perspective of Hester Prynne....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
930 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

- Pranav Damera Mr. Mackechnie English Period 6 9 May 2015 “A” in the Scarlet Letter According to Webster Dictionary, adultery is sex between a married person and someone who is not that person 's wife or husband. Even though this is still considered immoral nowadays, it is not dealt with as harshly by countries today as the Puritans. The scarlet letter “A” in the Scarlet Letter has many different meanings throughout the book. The “A” serves as a symbol throughout and helps show the suffering and strength of Hester Prynne as a character....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
1618 words (4.6 pages)