Research in Time

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Feminism has been around since the beginning of time. It began to be talked about and put into action in the late 19th century and spilled over into the early 20th century. This movement was categorized as the “first wave” and focused on women gaining more political rights. For example, women wanted more equal marriage, property, and suffrage rights. The first wave was considered over in the United States once women were allowed the right to vote. The second-wave started around the 1960’s and focused on women’s roles in society. Later, the second wave was considered to have blended into the third wave, which are now both continuing on today. Third-wave feminism, or “post-feminism”, is a movement that began in the 1980’s in response to the second wave. It’s a sort of a backlash and criticizes many of the ideas brought up by second-wave feminists. Although a clear definition for this movement is hard to find, it’s safe to say that it’s promoting the idea that feminism as a whole has done its job in society and that a third wave would not be necessary. Looking back into the history of feminism makes one wonder; if all these revolutionary ideas were coming to the surface around Hawthorne’s time, then how was he inspired to write Hester’s character? Is it possible that The Scarlet Letter may have been one of the first novels to start this radical thinking? The truth is, we don’t really know. It’s a debate whether the book is even about feminism. However, one may consider it to be one, but on the exception that it is unintentionally feminist. Hawthorne probably was not inspired by the movements around him because they were just starting up. The ideas have been there, they just weren’t being put into action until a few years after Hawthorne’s time. So, either he was brainstorming some controversial ideas about women’s roles in society, or Hester was one of the first feminists and a pioneer for the framework of first-wave ideas. Hester could be seen as a feminist...
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