How Is Hester Portrayed In The Scarlet Letter

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In the romantic novel, The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale commit adultery, but only Hester receives the consequences of their shared sin, which is to wear a scarlet letter and face public shame. The intensity of Hester’s punishment is partly due to the fact that she’s married, a woman, and has a child, due to her sin. Throughout the novel, Hawthorne portrays Hester Prynne’s identity and opinions as pertinent, yet useless at the same time. The portrayal of Hester’s identity and opinions supports Adrienne Rich’s essay, “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision,” as Rich writes about how men are “a dream, a fascination” yet “a terror” who oppress women by choosing to “dominate, tyrannize, choose, or reject” them. Rich’s opinion of men in literature coincides with Hester Prynne’s loss of identity, irrelevant opinions, and fascination and terror of her lover and shared sinner, reverend Arthur Dimmesdale.…show more content…
Dimmesdale’s cowardness results in Hester’s punishment that consequently requires Hester and her daughter, Pearl, to learn how to live as outsiders and become accustomed to public shaming. Although Hester is eventually allowed to take off her scarlet letter, Dimmesdale’s failed actions show how he “[chooses]” to save his identity and not Hester’s. Therefore, Hester’s identity and sense of self is lost as a result of a man that tyrannizes her and not succumbing to her heart because of the judgement she is influenced by, which is shown when Hawthorne writes, “Hester [...] whose heart had lost its regular healthy throb, wandered without a clew in the dark labyrinth of mind”
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