The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

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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 Hester Prynne, to demonstrate the inequality between the genders. Hester Prynne is an early example of female feminism in this time period, and Hawthorne empowers her independence from the patriarchal society by having her defy the Puritan societal norms.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s depiction of his female protagonist was influenced by literature, events, and individuals during his lifetime. In his early childhood, Hawthorne had many strong female influences around him, which included his mother, sister, and sister-in-law. His mother had to raise him as a single parent, his sister had her quick wit, and his sister-in-law was a proactive reformer. They all influenced his vision of feminism during this time period where men were dominant in society and the household (Wineapple, 2016). Later in his life, he befriended writers and politicians such as Franklin Pierce, Emerson, and Thoreau. The most prominent relationship was with Margaret Fuller, who wrote the book Woman in the Nineteenth Century...


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...ore 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, Victim, Object, Winner., 2008).
The feminist ideals that are represented in The Scarlet Letter illustrate that feminism is necessary for a society to develop and change, and for the individual themselves to grow by gaining self-knowledge. Hawthorne illustrates the divide between a patriarchal society and his protagonist, Hester Prynne in order to demonstrate how humans can develop as a society by contradicting the norms and challenging the masculine approaches that our culture and society naturally assumes.

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