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A for Able: Hester Prynne's Internal Conflict The Scarlet Letter ...

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A for Able: Hester Prynne's Internal Conflict The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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  • April 28, 2004
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In the book, "Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne has an affair and bears a child. This shocked the Puritan community deeply and she was forced to live alone with her child, Pearl, in the forest. After seven long years, she is incorporating herself back into the community due to her superb sewing skills. Although she is somewhat accepted into the community again, she cannot stop her passionate feelings for her lover, the Minister Dimmesdale. Her individual beliefs conflict with the society of the Puritan community, and demonstrate the idea that individual belief should not be overruled by society because society deems it wrong. These beliefs are so strong that she is willing to commit suicide rather than have society determine who she is.

She pretends to obey the rules on the outside, and completely ignore society on the inside was one of the main reasons why this internal conflict becomes a huge problem.

"It is remarkable that persons who speculate the most boldly often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulation of society." (61)

The quote mentions how one person can have the most radical beliefs, yet still follow the rules of society.

No one else understands Hester Prynne, mainly because there are not that many who have committed adultery, so Hester does not find anyone to relate to. Since she is so helpful and becomes a productive member of society, the town fathers contemplate allowing her to remove the scarlet letter. When Chillingworth, her husband, asks her why her scarlet letter is not removed, she answers,

"It lies not in the pleasure of the magistrates to take off this badge ...were I worthy to be quit of it, it would fall away of its own nature, or be transformed into something that should speak a different purport." (165)

Even though society accepts her, the conflict does not become resolved. She is stubbornly unwilling to let the society tell her what to do, as shown by her refusal to take...