Making a Room for Herself- "The Scarlet Letter", with a Feminist Rationale

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Making a Room For Her Own Self: A Study of The Motion Picture Scarlet Letter with a Feminist Rationale Dr. Seema Rathore
Govt. Commerce College Kota,Raj,India.

The Scarlet Letter – The Novel has been critiqued by many as a document of crime and punishment. But the point which drew all eyes, and, as it were, transfigured The wearer,-so that both men and women, who had been Familiarly acquainted with Hester Prynne, were now impressed as if they beheld her for the first time,-was that SCARLET LETTER, so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom. It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter Wearing the scarlet letter is meant to bring her ridicule and humiliation. The Novel progresses further as she has to face the ordeals of what some have called the moment of indiscretion. Hawthorne’s novel is more of an emotional and a psychological document, set in the 17th century puritan American society at Boston. The chief female protagonist is adulterous, a sinner who has to wear the badge of shame – though she removes it in the middle of the novel. Hawthorne has left certain questions in the mind of the readers that have been interpreted and critiqued since then. Important ones like: The question of the anatomy of the letter ‘A’, The Hester – World – Nature – Society – Situation question has many converging and diverging channels. Hester’s charm, beauty and elegance have puritanical shades of black and white. She is beautiful with her long black hair reflecting the sunlight gleam, her attractive eyes and cool countenance, her grace unmatched. Yet the fall from grace is inevitable after the punishment is announced upon her, as she looks withered out – though physically but not psychologically or spiritually. Puritanical irony pervades the novel with paradoxes and dichotomies of shame, sin, fall, cowardice, guilt and envy versus strength, fortitude, compassion and honesty. Hester values her morality, her ideas and her honesty above everyone else. Her battle is not with her own self but with the others. She stands all alone at one side of the battle field with her fortitude and the society on the other. Her individuality is at stake but she wins in the end after a long journey of struggle.

The spatial and the temporal in the book strikes the universal as it talks of human nature, nature of the universe, human society and nature as an entity in itself. The puritanical lesson is arrived with the idea that wisdom is attained through a long sequence of the sin-repentance-punishment trio. Mistakes in life teach lessons. Hester learns from her mistake. She is shown to live a gracious life after that. She becomes a respected woman, a legend in the Boston colony. She draws even with her life and society at last and lives long and peacefully. On the other hand Chillingworth kills himself as his heart and mind and will corrode with hatred, revenge and envy. Also Dimmesdale is all consumed by guilt and shame as he finally surrenders and dies after he has made a public confession and declaration of his shame.

The Scarlet Letter, the motion picture is a treat to the senses. It is a fairly considerable attractive piece of art. Demi Moore is stunning as Hester Prynne, Garry Oldman as Dimmesdale who looks like a college rockstar is convincing and Robert Duvall as Chillingworth is reasonable as a gone-native. The 1995 adaptation is director Roland Joffe’s story. It has digressed from the original and ironically won the ‘ Worst Remake or Sequel’ at the Golden Raspberry Awards. The film is a treat to the eye as shot in the British Columbia on Vancouver Island in and...
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