Hawthorne’s Style in Writing the Scarlett Letter in Focusing on Hester
The Scarlet Letter is a publication that revolves on the life of Hester Prynne, a wedded woman who has been incarcerated in Boston on the charge of infidelity. Hester’s arrival in Boston is devoid of her husband’s escort with a bid to be rejoined to his wife in Boston after the clearance of his medical scholarly program. It is within that period that Hester is involved with another man and in the process is impregnated. As she exits the prison, Hester cuddles her young baby girl, Pearl and she is forced to adorn a scarlet letter ‘A’ on her bust section as a connotation of her ‘adultery’ crime (Bloom 146). Hester is forced to live with the scarlet letter up until the period of her husband’s arrival, which identifies his wife’s crime by the letter. A divorce ensues between the couple as Hester still defends her lover’s identity to the chagrin of Roger Chillingsworth, her husband, and he declares of his intent for vengeance. In a last attempt to force her to reveal Pearl’s father, the Boston residents endeavor to separate the child from its mother and only the priest, Arthur Dimmensdale, defends her (Kopley 51). Later, Chillingsworth discovers that the priest fathered Pearl by a scarlet marking on his chest, and due to the priest’s premature death before the revenge, the doctor suffers for a year before his demise. Pearl and Hester move to an unknown destination where she gets married and the mum returns to Boston with her scarlet letter. Upon her demise, Hester is laid to rest besides the priest and a shared tombstone with the epitaph of a scarlet ‘A’ conjoins them. Hawthorne uses Hester’s scarlet letter to exemplify the various meanings it symbolized to the Puritan society.
In the third chapter of Hawthorne’s book during the three-hour public presentation, we learn that the letter is “a mark of shame upon her bosom” (Hawthorne 57). The ‘A’ is an excerpt from the term adulterer and it is significant of her crime. To Hester, the letter is a reminder of her sin and the source of her child. It also signifies the scorn and public disgrace that the society offers her upon the realization that she has committed infidelity and its permanence upon her chest is an unrelenting voice of the perception that the society has towards her; she is forever banished by her townspeople as long as the letter remains on her chest. The reminder is even made more painful since during every breastfeeding session, Hester has to be reminded that Pearl is an illegitimate child, attributed to her sinful nature. Additionally, it acts as a reminder of her lover’s desertion as marked by to the priest’s unwillingness for his identity to be revealed. Initially, in her development stages, Pearl is undoubtedly fascinated “by the glimmering of the gold embroidery about the letter” (Hawthorne 67) and this makes her equate the letter to her mother.
Hester’s identity is therefore defined by the letter to the point that devoid the letter, Pearl is unable to realize that the woman in the forest is her mother (Schmidt 6). This is exemplified in the scene where Hester and the priest resolve their issues and decide to elope together in a safer place where they can safely rear their daughter. As Hester realizes this fact, she re-instates the letter once more on her bust where it stays until she is laid to rest in her burial place. The fact that Pearl still communicates with her mother through mails is probably from the knowledge that she still has the red letter on her chest. To Dimmensdale the mark is a symbol of the adultery that he has committed with Pearl’s mother. Although his own mark is safely hidden in his chest, Hester’s acts as a constant reminder since it cannot be hidden. It also depicts his cowardice. The identity that the Puritan society fashions for Hester is that of an unashamed personality. The letter is discretely supposed to comprise of red and golden hues which is emblematic of “her sin…her rebellious spirit and willful personality” (Hawthorne 208). Therefore, Hester is forced to stay as a loner for the rest of her life, way from the ‘upright’ people within the given community.
However, the letter soon after transforms Hester into the adoring, thoughtful and intellectual individual she knows that she is. Hester is able to have a different perception of her surrounding and the unfair treatment that various people are afforded, a parallelism to her situation (Hawthorn & Cindy XVIII). She uses her personal convictions to reach out to the poor and in turn ends up transforming the shameful letter to an adorable one. Hester refuses to leave Boston even with her right to do so, because by moving out she would offer the society the satisfaction to accord her the identity that it would prefer, which in the given context is that of dishonor. Having the letter helps her accrue a sense of own identity by the ultimate message that it sends along to the other members of the public; sin is part of the human nature and it occurs to shape and strengthen individuals towards life betterment. Pretence does not make it disappear and its effects become more traumatizing as indicated by the priest. Her return is a confirmation that her leave was not a leeway to escape the scorn but just a mere travelling experience; and to prove her critics wrong.
Bloom, Harold. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The scarlet letter. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing, 2007. Print.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter: A Romance. Charleston: BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2008. Print. This book offers the tale that has been used for the discussion. It acts as a credible source for character quotations and the identification of the specific scenes within which the premises are sourced. It also imparts within the reader the ability to perform individual critical thinking and evaluative skills that are quite constructive to own arguments as presented in the discussion.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel and Cindy, Weinstein. The Scarlet Letter. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.
Kopley, Richard. The threads of the scarlet letter: a study of Hawthorne’s transformative art. Wilmington: University of Delaware Press, 2003. Print.
Schmidt, Anja. Pearl’s Twilight Nature in “The Scarlet Letter”: Emblem of Sin Or Self-fulfilling Prophecy? Munchen: GRIN Verlag, 2007. Print. This publication helps the reader to acquire an in-depth understanding of Pearl and her characterization within Hawthorne’s novel. It discusses the intricate nature of pearl characterization and its relevance within the text. Specifically within the discussion, it aids the reader to comprehend the attachments that Pearl has towards the scarlet letter hanging on her mother’s bosom.