Hester Prynne: A Modern Feminist Trapped In Puritan America When one thinks about feminism, they may think of women’s suffrage in the 1900s or women fighting to end the wage gap and gender equality today. Few would expect that an example of feminism could be found in The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne (a man) in 1850, through the protagonist, Hester Prynne, in seventeenth-century Massachusetts. The novel follows Puritan Boston when faced with a case of adultery involving forward-thinking Hester Prynne. Pondering Hester’s inner thoughts and actions, one can come to the conclusion that she would identify as a feminist today. Hester Prynne is an example of a modern-day feminist and ahead of her time because of her independence, rejection…show more content… Hester believes that to have men and women be equal in society, it must be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up which was very radical at the time and even now. While Hester is pondering the purpose of Puritan society and how to fix it, she comes to the conclusion that society has to be restarted or needs a new beginning. Hester is deciding if she should leave America and Puritan society. She begins to wonder what it would take to get equality for her and all women. Hester visualizes this:
As a first step, the whole system of society is to be torn down and built up anew. Then the very nature of the opposite sex, or its long hereditary habit, which has become like nature, is to be essentially modified before woman can be allowed to assume what seems a fair and suitable position (150).
The fact that she recognizes the problems within her society and then proceeds to come up with a solution is a defining feminist trait. Hester Prynne relates to Ann Hutchinson and would most likely relate to the feminists of today. Hester is independent, challenges conservative traditions and thinks of ways that society could be improved. Feminists of today do the same thing. Hester Prynne is just modern day feminist trapped in the stigmas of Puritan