Prynne Hester’s Role in ‘The Scarlet Letter’
Hester is the major character who contributes a lot in the development of the play. We see her to be young and beautiful woman in the start of the play. Since she stays away from her husband, the act of adultery comes when she gets the child. We are not able to know what type of a person she was because we start with shameful analysis of her actions but in good thought she actually accepts that and lives according to the set up of the society. She claims that although she did that, she is even much better than some of the people in that community. Down our essay we shall see how she is either a sinner, saint or the victim of her own characters.
Hester claims that she is condemned to be a bad person though there are others who are even worse than her. “Why is it that I am portrayed as “the” sinner, a sinner who has committed a sin greater than ever in this known functioning world? I am no different than any one of the people living under this Puritan Society and I know for a fact, that we all share something in common; we are all guilty for our everyday sins. (Hester, pg 59)”. In the first set of the novel it is evidently that Hester is seen as a victim other than a heroine. It is here we get to know the actual activities which happed for her to get that letter which each and every person sees her as a sinner. The adultery she commits when her husband was believed to have disappeared in the sea makes the authority to give her the letter which shows that she is a sinner, (Hawthorne, 2008).
According to her, this was a serious thing but she actually accepted to stay like that. It is evident that she forms a love triangle between her, her husband and the lover Arthur Dimmesdale and also she is an object which clearly shows the cruel aspect of sin in her actions. According to Evan Carton, a literature professor at the University of Texas at Austin, the society should control female sexuality so as not to bring some funny dramas which degrades the society rules. As the society, we are able to learn from the behaviors of Hester because we can not determine whether the children and the wife are ours actually. This is a lesson we learn from Hester which we are supposed to take into consideration. It is amazing because we can see that, although Hester is believed to be a sinner and a victim of what she did, she does not accept to denounce the father of the child when her husband comes. She is somehow a hero because she does not announce that Chillingworth was actually her husband. She takes responsibility of accepting her mistake and taking care of the child she gives birth, (Bloom, 2004).
In the novel we are made to understand that Hester is laid down of humiliation for seven good years. To her that was not a big deal because the worst had happed and the only thing she had to do is to accept the reality and stay with the community. She is a hero because we see that she makes a harsh decision of staying with the same community which scorns her now and then. It is evident from the narrators’ point of view that people tend to stay where they feel they are going to bring some change in their lives. She is a hero because unlike most old women, she took the responsibility of bringing up Pearl by starting a small business so as to earn some income, ‘‘at the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynne’s forehead. Madam Hester would have winced at that, I warrant me. But she,--the naughty baggage, --little will she care what they put upon the bodice of her gown! Why, look you, she may cover it with a brooch, or such like heathenish adornment, and so walk the streets as brave as ever!” (Hawthorne 49). Hester is also a hero because we can see that she tries all she could by ensuring that her daughter could not go anywhere when the authority wanted to take her. This is a big challenge which people of Boston came across which made them saw Hester not in a perspective of a sinner but someone who was capable of doing great things despite the fact she had committed adultery when her husband was not around, (Hawthorne, 2006).
Although many looked Hester to be a sinner, we can see her effort such that she is in a position to provide to the poor. Here comes the aspect of sanity because we think she does provide to the poor as a sign of penance from what she had done. We are also able to see that Hester could be termed as a person of charitable actions from the way she was generous to the needy. Out of her kindness and the way she handled those harsh conditions came across her, the community started to reinterpret the letter which showed her to be a sinner, "Except for that small expenditure in the decoration of her infant, Hester bestowed all her superfluous means in the charity, on wretches less miserable than herself, and who not infrequently insulted the hand that fed them, (Hester, pg 159)”. This brought a different approach of the community’s thought because they believed that a good person like Hester could not commit evil things and that was just but a way to punish her but actually she was not a bad person, (Hawthorne, 2008).
According to the narrator, we are able to see that Hester comes to realize that her actions made her husband even seek some revenge. The moment she refused to acknowledge that Roger was her husband and also who was the father of her child, things started changing. From the narrators point of view is that Hester’s isolation brought to hersome ideas that she had done wrong and that she needs to do things which could really change the mind of the whole society. My suggestion is that the narrator somehow brings some inconsistence when trying to bring different pictures of Hester due to the activities which are happening, “Hester Prynne, gazing steadfastly at the clergyman, felt a dreary influence come over her, but wherefore or whence she knew not; unless that he seemed so remote from her own sphere, and utterly beyond her reach.” (218). All what we can say that the society of Puritan came to realize that Hester was a capable woman despite the fact that she went against the action of sex. It was believed that those who committed adultery were not in a position to be good the way we are seeing Hester in the novel, (Bloom, 2004).
In conclusion we can say that Hester has brought different feelings in our society set up and she has taught many women how to behave when worse happens in their life. Hester is a woman who is shown to be of much confidence and becomes a hero in the novel where she creates some rights which govern the set up of the society woman.
Bloom, H. (2004). Hester Prynne: InfoBase Publishing
Hawthorne, N. (2006). The Scarlet Letter: Easyread Comfort: ReadHowYouWant.com
Hawthorne, N. (2008). The Scarlet Letter: Arc Manor LLC