The Scarlet Letter: Hester Prynnes Choices
The Scarlet Letter Alienation can be linked to self-discovery. The alienated can make a choice: to endure or to protest. Explain the choices made by Hester Prynne and how they are typical or atypical based on the societal values during this time period (1640s). Hester Prynne has made many tough decisions throughout the novel. Most, if not all, of her choices were atypical for women during this time period. One of Hester’s most prominent decisions was to stay in town when she knows that her and her child, Pearl, will be shunned.
Townspeople were shocked at her decision to continue living in the village in which the crime was committed. The majority of women back then would have probably hid themselves in shame and ran away to another village. Hester, on the other hand, wanted to stay in the town which she called home. Hester also feels that she is attached to Pearl’s father, Reverend Dimmesdale, who continues to live in Boston. Another reason she chooses to stay is because she feels that the people of the town want her to leave their village.
She wants to show them that they cannot and will not rule the course of her life and stays. Hester does not want to live a life of lies so she figures that she might as well deal with the consequences. Most women in that time period would have lived the rest of their lives in solitude and shame; leading a miserable life. Hester may not have been happy all the time, but she was not miserable. She endured the pain of the scarlet letter and tried not to let it affect her life.
Another choice that Hester has made is the choice to keep Chillingworth’s identity a secret. When Chillingworth approaches Hester Prynne in her jail cell, he makes Hester promise that she will not tell anyone of his relation to Hester. She chooses to keep her husbands identity a secret. Hester also chooses to keep Reverend Dimmedale’s sin a secret. She does not tell anyone that Dimmesdale committed the adultery sin along with her. Many women in this society in Hester’s position probably would have made the opposite choices as Hester Prynne.
They may have felt that the men deserved punishment also: Chillingworth for leaving her alone and Dimmesdale for committing the sin along with her. Hester Prynne feels that it was her responsibility and did not feel the need for Chillingworth or especially Dimmesdale, to be punished. Many women in Hester’s society and time period would have hidden the scarlet letter and tried to lead a normal life forgetting about the horrible sin that they committed.
Hester wore the scarlet red “A” proudly upon her chest and wanted to teach Pearl and others the consequences of her sin. She does not want to live a life of lies. Dimmesdale, on the other hand, became depressed and suicidal because the town had no idea that he had also committed this terrible sin. The townsfolk looked up to him and followed in his footsteps so the reverend did not want to let them down. Instead of proudly displaying his crime as Hester did, he kept it to himself and physically punished himself brutally with a whip.
Hester still loved him even though he was a afraid and didn’t tell the village people the truth. The majority of women in Hester’s position would have thought Dimmesdale a coward and hated him for the rest of their lives. Hester has a kind heart and forgives Dimmesdale for his cowardice and harmful actions. Hester Prynne is not the typical woman from back in the 1640s. She made many choices that were unheard of back then. She committed adultery, kept secrets, stayed in the village, and above all, she endured the pain of the scarlet “A”.