The Scarlet Letter The Use Of Hester
The Scarlet Letter: The Use Of Hester Essay, Research Paper
In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne makes Hester Prynne the cardinal figure in the narrative much like Susanna Rowson does with Charlotte in Charlotte Temple. The secret plans of the books are centered on these adult females ; the plot lines on occasion move elsewhere to inform the reader of the occurrences of other characters, but ever returns to their several female supporter. The writers? usage of their prima ladies differs when supplying a subject, however.Susanna Rowson uses Charlotte Temple as an illustration for the reader. By taking the reader on a journey through Charlotte? s life of ageless wretchedness, Rowson? s storyteller is able to indicate out where Charlotte makes hapless determinations. With the reader now cognizant of the misdirected picks of Charlotte, the storyteller warns the reader that any immature miss could stop up in the same type of quandary. She so teaches the immature female reader how she should respond in a similar state of affairs and the? sober matron? reader how to forestall such a quandary from go oning to her girl. In drumhead, Charlotte Temple? s actions are used to straight learn the subject as Rowson wishes.Nathaniel Hawthorne uses his chief character in a wholly different manner. It is common for a reader of The Scarlet Letter to find that the subject of the narrative is that criminal conversation is bad, but that is non the instance. Hawthorne is non promoting criminal conversation ; that is true: As Darrel Abel provinces in his essay, ? Hawthorne? s Hester, ? ? Although we are expected to love and commiseration Hester, we are non invited to excuse her mistake or to interpret it as a virtuousness. ? 1 Hester Prynne and her lecherous wickedness are Hawthorne? s means of conveying a different message ; Hawthorne is more interested in bring outing the defects of puritan society and the lip service of their reactions to Hester. The character of Hester Prynne is created as to work these defects indirectly.The Puritan civilization is one that recognizes Protestantism, a religious order of Christianity. Though a basic of Christianity is forgiveness for one? s wickednesss, this has long been forgotten amongst the adult females of Boston: ? Morally, every bit good as materially, there was a coarser fiber in those married womans and maidens of old English birth and genteelness, than in their just decendants. ? 2 When Hester is foremost brought out of her prison cell, the dish the dirting goodwives recommend much harsher penalties, from a trade name on her brow to decease. Hester, who had done small incorrect prior to this wickedness of criminal conversation, is no longer seen as a human being, but simply as a symbol of evil and shame upon the town. The Puritans, one of the most devoted groups of bible bookmans, bury one of Jesus? most celebrated of quotation marks, ? He that is without wickedness among you, allow him foremost cast a rock at her. ? The adult females forget to look inside themselves before they cast their sentiments upon Hester. It is non these people? s right to find Hester? s penalty, non the adult females? s nor the magistrates? ; such a right is reserved merely for God.When the ordeal at the market-place eventually ends, Hawthorne reverses the functions as Hester is the lone individual in town without wickedness while the townsfolk are conceited and holier-than-thou. Hester continues her life, ostracized on the outskirts of town. She is evidently penitent, as she chooses to stay in Boston, even when she is free to travel elsewhere and get down her life anew. ? Here? had been the scene of her guilt, and here should be the scene of her earthly penalty ; and so, pe
rchance, the torture of her daily shame would at length purge her soul, and work out another purity than that which she had lost; more saint-like because the result of martyrdom? (SL 57). She has become a modest woman, seeking ?not to acquire any thing beyond a subsistence, of the plainest and most ascetic description? (SL 58). Hester takes up the occupation of seamstress, a job that, as shown by the golden embroidery around the scarlet letter, suits her well. Her creations become the fashion of the town: ?Her needle-work was seen on the ruff of the Governor; military men wore it on their scarfs, and the minister on his band; it decked the baby?s little cap; it was shut up, to be mildewed and moulder away, in the coffins of the dead. But it is not recorded that, in a single instance, her skill was called in aid to embroider the white veil which was to cover the pure blushes of a bride. The exception indicated the ever relentless vigor with which society frowned upon her sin? (SL 58). The preceding quotation is important to understanding Hawthorne?s opinion of Puritanism. These ?morally perfect? people are committing the sin of vanity without a second thought, and their hypocrisy shines through, as they have no problem wearing anything of Hester?s creation except for a wedding veil. With this in mind, Hester now appears to be the only wholly pious person in town. She spends her free-time making clothes for the poor as a form of penance, rejecting the joy she gains from her needlework as a sin, but even the needy who receive the gifts of Hester Prynne ?often reviled the hand that was stretched forth to succor them? (SL 59).Years later, this negative treatment of Hester no longer takes place. She is well respected by the townspeople for her philanthropic and virtuous ways: ?Her breast, with its badge of shame, was but the softer pillow for the head that needed one? (SL 110). People began to interpret her scarlet A as Able, rather than by its initial meaning. Hester refuses to embrace this new opinion of her, however; she performs these benevolent acts and then leaves, refusing to accept any form of gratitude.The conclusion of the townspeople?s arrogant attitudes towards her allows Hawthorne to put Hester to a new task. Her thematic job, as provided by Hawthorne, of revealing the hypocrisy of the Puritans is finished; her new role is that of a secondary character. She is used to aid in showing the allegorical significance of the actions of Pearl, Chillingsworth, and most importantly, Reverend Dimmesdale. Hester Prynne is never truly the theme?s center of attention like Charlotte Temple is; she simply helps to promote Hawthorne?s arguments about Puritanism and metaphorical ideas about the other characters. Therefore, it is never of great importance how Hester should turn out in the conclusion; it is merely for the benefit of the reader?s interest that she becomes a friendly ear to the women of Boston in the end. Hawthorne does use her to impart his final words of wisdom though: ?at some brighter period, when the world should have grown ripe for it, in Heaven?s own time, a new truth would be revealed, in order to establish the whole relation between man and woman on a surer ground of mutual happiness? (SL 177). Also, the narrator leaves a final unanswerable question amidst the words of Hester ? was she herself actually the destined prophetess, ?lofty, pure, and beautiful; and wise? (SL 177) that Hester had envisioned?