Hester Prynne In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Gender determines a person’s role in a patriarchal society. In such a society, women are marginalized and represented by their male counterpart, such as their husband. Hester Prynne, the protagonist of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, defies these social standards as she survives without the guidance of a man. Hester is a self-sufficient single mother who creates her own position within the strict Puritan community- the epitome of a Feminism. Throughout the novel, Hester has the challenge of single-handedly raising a child while bearing her punishment for adultery. Pearl is Hester’s only treasure, “she named the infant ‘Pearl,’ as being of great price--purchased with all she had [because] in giving her existence a great law had been…show more content…
She is isolated from society, both physically and emotionally. Hester’s exclusion from the community forces her to rely solely on her own judgment, “she had wandered, without rule or guidance, in a moral wilderness. . . . The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers,—stern and wild ones,—and they had made her strong,” (210). Her strength of character is also shown in her indirect acts of civil disobedience. “On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A. It was so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it had all the effect of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel which she wore; and which was of a splendor in accordance with the taste of the age, but greatly beyond what was allowed by the sumptuary regulations of the colony,”(53). Hester makes her punishment as apart of her, proudly wearing it on her chest while also going against the Puritan idea of plainness. Challenges in Hester’s life force her to have a strong sense of
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