Feminism and Sexism: the Scarlet Letter

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Anaysa Viviana Arce

Professor Dr. Don Macon

English Literature 1302

21 April 2013

Feminism & Sexism: The Scarlet Letter

“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” (ch. 24). The Scarlet Letter; where there is a woman, a husband, and a lover. A story where women are downgraded, humiliated, punished, and judged for their actions. It is an obvious that eras have changed as well as customs, women now have a say in our government. Therefore, we mainly focus on two political issues that have affected our society, feminism and sexism. We go in depth of researching how their definitions have changed throughout time and how they have affected our society solely in the United States.

The Scarlet Letter, is a good representation of how feminism and sexism was affected in the era of the Puritans. Within the story, women were thought of as lesser than men. Women’s purposes were to raise children and give them good morals and values. Women did not have jobs; they wore the plainest clothes, and sat quietly by their husbands’ sides. Passion and happiness were considered to be a sin in the Puritan faith. Hester Prynne, (the main character in the story), has to overcome many obstacles in the novel, emotionally, socially, and psychologically. Living in a Puritan Society, where they had strict rules that everyone had to abide by, the society showed that men overruled women, and women were subjects to men. Hester’s place within Puritan society changes within the novel, where she defies male authority.

Feminism in its definition according to Barbara Smith in This Bridge Called My Back (1981) means; "Feminism is the political theory and practice to free all women: women of color, working-class women, poor women, physically challenged women, lesbians, old women as well as white economically privileged heterosexual women. Anything less than this is not...
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