How Hester Changes
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter is a story of love, sin, and self-realization. Hester Prynne is a beautiful young woman who commits adultery, and as punishment she has to wear a scarlet “A” on her shirt everywhere she goes. Her society shuns her and she can no longer have normal relations. Hester Prynne is defined by the scarlet letter and goes through many changes throughout the novel.
The letter isolates her and she can longer have normal relations with society. Hawthorne mentions how “it had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity and enclosing her in a sphere by herself.” (Hawthorne 49) This quote shows how something as simple as a letter on her shirt caused the entire community to reject her and outcast her. When Hawthorne spoke of the townspeople’s reactions, he wrote, “…turning their heads continually to stare into her face, and at the winking baby in her arms, and at the ignominious letter on her breast.” (Hawthorne 50) All the people would stare at her, but no one would address her or try to be nice. Some even referred to her as a witch. When Hawthorne wrote of Hester’s feelings concerning the townspeople he stated, “from the intense consciousness of being the object of severe and universal observation, the wearer of the scarlet letter was at length relieved by discerning on the outskirts of the crowd…” (Hawthorne 55) This is saying how Hester felt immense relief when she was isolated. When she was in public, she was in the limelight, but not in a positive way.
Hester emerges from the prison full of dignity, but soon begins to change negatively because of public humiliation. When Hawthorne was speaking of how her demeanor was when she directly emerged from prison, he stated, “She was ladylike, too, after the manner of the feminine gentility of those days; characterized by a certain state and dignity…” (Hawthorne 49) He explains...
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