Hester's Humiliation in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter

Hester's Humiliation in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter

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Hester's Humiliation in The Scarlet Letter

 

 

 

How much punishment and tourture can one withstand, especially when it's mental punishment instead of physical? Hester Prynne committed the sin of adultery which has led her to a life of isolation and ridicule. She is branded and made to wear the scarlet letter A on the chest of her dress for the rest of her life. Her daughter will never get to play with the rest of the children. The scaffold, however, is the biggest burden. She has to stand in front of the crowd and watch them gossip and talk about her before she goes back into the prison. In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne shows her humiliation through the setting and her reaction to the crowd.

 

 

    Several words can be drawn from this section to help show Hester's embarassment. It says that she stood "fully revealed before the crowd" and she clasped the infant. This was part of Hester's punishment. She is made to stand on the scaffold and be ridiculed by the crowd and preachers. There is nowhere to hide because everyone can see her and see her sin and so she is fully revealed. The clasping of the infant can be at first thought of as a mother protecting her child. However, it is then shown how she tries to hide one sin with another token of her sin. Her reaction to the crowd was very suprising as she realized there was no point in hiding from her sin anymore.

 

 

       Hester showed extreme strength and courage when she takes the child away. A deep impression of her courage is felt when her face was described. The book said she had a "burning blush and ahaughty smile." This can alsoshow her as being rebelliousbecause most perople wouldn't raise their head, much less with a haughty smile. The glance she gave the crowd was what put it over the top. She was being bold and it was like she was saying, "Look you can't punish me anymore I've served my time." Though her crime was very wrong, admiration is felt due to her braveness. Then the people saw her A and how elaborately it was decorated.

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More rebellion is shown as Hawthorne described how the gold thread flourished in its elaborateness. Women back then just wore black andgloomy colors and for this woman to put her punishment in gold was just appalling to the crowd. They had to wonder why did she want to draw more attention to her sin. She stood bold and courageous and realized that there was no point in running from her sin anymore.

 

 

    Courage in the face of a stern crowd is all that can be said about Hester and this section of the book. Through the setting, her shame and guilt can not only be seen, but felt as well. However she stood strong and proud and did not let the crowd further her humiliation.

 
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