Rebellion of Hester Prynne: A Scapegoat of Society
All of humanity is sinful and must face judgment. The Scarlet Letter addresses how one woman’s mistake and mark of shame has the possibility of flipping a whole society upside down. Hawthorne reveals Hester Prynne’s strong character through her experiences and struggles within her sin.
Many people choose to keep their true emotions hidden in order to protect themselves, and Hester is one of those prime examples. She desires that her secret remains concealed from the people’s view in order to preserve those involved and herself. Her mask of rebellious nature fulfills the task efficiently: “Those who had known her, and had expected to behold her dimmed and obscured by a disastrous cloud, were astonished, and even startled, to perceive how her beauty shone out, and made a halo of the misfortune and ignominy in which she was enveloped” (pg. 37).
Hester embraces her stance before the congregation with self-respect, but internally she fills her heart with despair. Although Hester feels anxious and vulnerable, she creates a sense of revolution by withholding the prized information, who is the baby’s father? The beauty portrayed is not based on Hester’s physical features but rather her individualistic character. She asserts to her crowd of hypocrites that she is not a toy of their amusement, but rather a courageous woman who feasibly controls her heart and mind and body through the tribulations that arise from sin.
Sacrificial people, like Hester Prynne, load major tasks upon their shoulders with selflessness. She places herself in the heated crossfire of judgment and hostility in order to gift Pearl, her daughter, the opportunity to grow and excel. Hester initiates this change through new decisions, duties, and dogmas that are carried out: “She possessed an art that sufficed, even in a land that afforded comparatively little scope for its exercise, to supply food for her thriving infant and herself. It was the art – then, as now, almost the only one within a woman’s grasp – of needlework” (pg. 56).
Hawthorne exemplifies that through the numerous sacrifices, Hester is able to provide and execute. She picks up the vigorous task of needlework with a view to supply the demands of her treasured Pearl. No matter the cost, Hester completes countless hours of pleasing rude residents in furtherance of preparing the path of success for her daughter. She is filled with the motivation to value and prosper the blessing God has presented her through the ruined sin of adultery.
Voicing her opinion is a key component of her fight against many in society. However, Hester is purposeful in any action she takes and speaks her opinion at certain moments. An expression of her defiance is exemplified when, “She felt that she possessed indefeasible rights against the world, and was ready to defend them to the death. ‘God gave me the child!’ cried she” (pg. 77). The fierceness established within her is undeniably great. Hester’s ability to rise up, accept the challenge, and declare her beliefs exemplifies how powerful she is.
In the battle of her daughter’s custody, she does not lower her stand, but she rather justifies her importance. This defiance is not to be hindered, but instead, it should be understood and appreciated in making a difference now for the new ways to come. Ultimately, Hester Prynne is paving the road for women to follow. She teaches that women are not defined by society or sin, and that they should defend their views.
Therefore, she represents that possibilities do not vanish with one error made, but they rather continue on at a forceful speed. The able character of Hester Prynne reveals her strength through her encounters and trials resulting from her sin. She proves that no person should be limited due to past wrongs, but instead, society should help and lean on one another for understanding along with guidance in this deceiving world.
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