The Scarlet Letter and Adulteress Hester

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Essay #3
It is extremely easy for a society to alienate an individual based on assumptions or moral values. A good example of alienation in literature would be Hester Prynne’s role in The Scarlet Letter. Because Hester Prynne has a child out of wedlock she is looked down upon by society and labeled with a scarlet let “A” for adultery/adulteress. This alienation highlights the values of society in the time period of the story based on women and pregnancies. Hester’s suffering reveals societies true feelings and assumptions based on her actions as a woman.

As a woman in her time period, Hester does not fit the role of the ideal innocent woman which society expects of her. However, instead Hester goes against society’s views on premarital sex and pregnancy as she gets pregnant by the reverend with her daughter Pearl without being married. These actions, as they are frowned upon by society in the Puritan times, bring forth the assumptions by individuals and society as a whole that Hester is a whore and sleeps around with men. However, as most assumptions are false accusations, society is nonetheless strongly persuaded and moved by them. And it is these assumptions and false accusations that society has placed on Hester which cause her suffering of punishment and alienation amidst society.

Along with the revelation of society’s assumptions, another way that Hester’s alienation reveals society’s values according to gender and marriage is by Hester’s punishments and suffering. As a result of Hester’s sin, she brings her daughter, Pearl, into the world, and faces major punishments. Not only does she have to serve a long time in prison, but she is publicly displayed with the scarlet letter “A” for the entire town to see and criticize. The force society places upon Hester as an individual and a woman makes her feel as though she will never be accepted again. This goes to show how harsh and judgmental society really can be. As they look down upon Hester...
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