English Composition 1213.33
April 4, 2013
Hester’s Road to Emancipation
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a beautiful story of a woman who overcomes hardship after hardship for committing adultery with the town’s reverend. The Scarlet Letter follows a strong woman in an era when women were supposed to be subordinate to their male counterparts. During Hawthorne’s time period, men were considered dominant. Hawthorne characterizes women as strong and independent (though sometimes morally unacceptable), while many of his male characters are morally weak.
Hester’s story is one of emancipating herself. She keeps secrets that would have helped her when put out in the open. Even when it seems she is held in bondage by secrets and people, she is actually freeing herself in her own ways. She liberates herself socially, psychologically, economically, and sexually while her husband and lover are kept in bondage because they are cowards and hypocrites, unwilling to reveal their true identities. Women, although the weaker sex in this heavily religious society, prove to be incredibly strong in this novel. In his novel Hawthorne states, “…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” (Hawthorne, 201).
Social liberation was very important for Hester. Her place changes throughout the romance, and so does her relationship with the Puritan patriarchal authority. She begins to stretch the boundaries that have been set for a woman of her status. Hester doesn’t submit to anyone or anything but her own inner laws. This can be seen as the realization of true emancipation. There is some difference in the way Hester appears to react to authority and the way she actually does react. The narrator presents Hester as submissive and well-aware of her guilt in accepting her punishment. However, the act of adultery itself, in the scene in... [continues]
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