Hester As A Self Reliant Character Essay

906 words - 4 pages

Individualism in a Society-Based World

In a society-centered world, living as self-reliant can be a difficult task to accomplish because society puts pressure on its members to conform to its standards. Nonconformists are eluded by society and consequently have difficulty retaining their nonconformist position. According to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self Reliance”, those who express themselves and dismiss the role of consistency are misunderstood, but great and as a result will ultimately rise in a “morally perfect,” but hypocritical society. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne was created as a self-reliant character that indirectly exploits ...view middle of the document...

     In the second chapter, Hawthorne explains how when Hester appeared for the first time before the town for public ignominy she was unaffected. Hester had come to accept the Puritan religion, and punishment of adultery. “Those who had before known her, and had expected to behold her dimmed and obscured by a disastrous cloud, were astonished, and even startled, to perceive how her beauty shone out, and made a halo of the misfortune and ignominy in which she was enveloped.” (chp. 2) This clearly shows how Hester is unaffected by the ignominy, how she acts as if nothing is happening. Hester quickly realized, though, that being self-reliant and giving no regard to ill treatment from society would ultimately pull her through her life as a social outcast. In the end, Hester’s strength, honesty, and compassion carry her through a life she had not imagined. While Dimmesdale dies after his public confession and Chillingworth dies consumed by his own hatred and revenge. Hester endures her punishment without a word against it, and grows from it, making her a stronger woman to be admired from her puritan counterparts and more at peace through her suffering.
The letter “A” that was sown upon the bosom of Hester had become a symbol of sin because the Puritans shaped religion, social life, and the government together. Therefore, each member of society saw the “A” on Hester’s chest in the same light. Likewise, the beauty and craftsmanship of Hester's red symbol of sin demonstrates the hypocritical and shallow nature of the Puritans when Hawthorne describes how...

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