The Scarlet Letter

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Brittany King


AP English 11
Hester Prynne: a beauty in an ugly place

“Mother,” said [Pearl], “was that the same minister that kissed me by the brook?” “Hold thy peace, dear little Pearl!” whispered her mother. “We must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest.” (Hawthorne, 2000) Throughout the course of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, Hawthorne paints the image of a strong woman crafted through trials and tribulations bestowed upon her because of a sin committed through love and passion. Hester the adulteress is displayed before the towns people: old women called “gossips,” children glad to have a half day of school, and a reverend filled with guilt and shame, all gathered around a scaffold to view a beautiful woman with a scarlet “A” on her chest and a child cradled in her arms. (Hawthorne, 2000) Hawthorne uses three appeals- pathos, logos, and ethos- to develop his character Hester. The three scaffold scenes, and the scene in the forest are where Hawthorne develops Hester the most. In the first scaffold scene, a young woman named Hester, who is somehow strong and poised in the middle of persecution, is introduced. “When the young woman... stood fully revealed before the crowd, it seemed to be her first impulse to clasp the infant closely to her bosom... as that she might thereby conceal a certain token, which was wrought or fastened into her dress...wisely judging that one token of her shame would but poorly serve to hide another, she took the baby on her arm, and, with a burning blush, and yet a haughty smile, and a glance that would not be abashed, looked around at her townspeople and neighbors.” (Hawthorne, 2000) Pathos is shown through Hester's vulnerability when she first steps out of the prison. She tries to hide the golden embroidered, scarlet “A” that marked her with shame, showing that she feels embarrassed having to display her sin before all of Massachusetts Bay Colony. (Hawthorne, 2000) Hawthorne's...
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