Hester Prynne, a young wife whose husband has been missing for over a year, is accused of adultery following the birth of her infant daughter Pearl. In a shameful public ceremony, Hester is forced to stand on a scaffold for more than three hours and submit to an interrogation. She is forced to wear a scarlet-colored A on her clothes to mark her as an adulteress. While on the scaffold, Hester sees her husband, Mr.
While Hawthorne does not give a great deal of information about her life before the book opens, he does show her remarkable character, revealed through her public humiliation and subsequent, isolated life in Puritan society.
Her inner strength, her defiance of convention, her honesty, and her compassion may have been in her character all along, but the scarlet letter brings them to our attention.
She is, in the end, a survivor. Hester is physically described in the first scaffold scene as a tall young woman with a "figure of perfect elegance on a large scale. In fact, so physically stunning is she that "her beauty shone out, and made a halo of the misfortune and ignominy in which she was enveloped.
Her beautiful hair is hidden under her cap, her beauty and warmth are gone, buried under the burden of the elaborate scarlet letter on her bosom. When she removes the letter and takes off her cap in Chapter 13, she once again becomes the radiant beauty of seven years earlier.
Symbolically, when Hester removes the letter and takes off the cap, she is, in effect, removing the harsh, stark, unbending Puritan social and moral structure. Hester is only to have a brief respite, however, because Pearl angrily demands she resume wearing the scarlet A.
With the scarlet letter and her hair back in place, "her beauty, the warmth and richness of her womanhood, departed, like fading sunshine; and a gray shadow seemed to fall across her. What we know about Hester from the days prior to her punishment is that she came from a "genteel but impoverished English family" of notable lineage.
She married the much older Roger Chillingworth, who spent long hours over his books and experiments; yet she convinced herself that she was happy. When they left Amsterdam for the New World, he sent her ahead, but he was reportedly lost at sea, leaving Hester alone among the Puritans of Boston.
Officially, she is a widow. While not a Puritan herself, Hester looks to Arthur Dimmesdale for comfort and spiritual guidance. Somewhere during this period of time, their solace becomes passion and results in the birth of Pearl.
The reader first meets the incredibly strong Hester on the scaffold with Pearl in her arms, beginning her punishment.
On the scaffold, she displays a sense of irony and contempt. The irony is present in the elaborate needlework of the scarlet letter. There are "fantastic flourishes of gold-thread," and the letter is ornately decorative, significantly beyond the colony's laws that call for somber, unadorned attire.
The first description of Hester notes her "natural dignity and force of character" and mentions specifically the haughty smile and strong glance that reveal no self-consciousness of her plight. While she might be feeling agony as if "her heart had been flung into the street for them all to spurn and trample upon," her face reveals no such thought, and her demeanor is described as "haughty.
In this first scene, Dimmesdale implores her to name the father of the baby and her penance may be lightened. Hester's self-reliance and inner strength are further revealed in her defiance of the law and in her iron will during her confrontation with the governor of the colony.
Despite her lonely existence, Hester somehow finds an inner strength to defy both the townspeople and the local government. This defiance becomes stronger and will carry her through later interviews with both Chillingworth and Governor Bellingham. Her determination and lonely stand is repeated again when she confronts Governor Bellingham over the issue of Pearl's guardianship.
When the governor determines to take Pearl away from her, Hester says, "God gave me the child! He gave her in requital of all things else, which he had taken from me. Ye shall not take her! I will die first! I will not give her up! Hester's strength is evident in her dealings with both her husband and her lover.The Scarlet Letter: A Romance, an novel, is a work of historical fiction written by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne.
It is considered his "masterwork". Set in 17th-century Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony, during the years to , it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity.
Character Analysis: Scarlet Letter-Hester Prynne The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne is a complex novel with in depth characterization. This analysis is about Hester Prynne, the main character and focuses on three of her attitudes, appearance, and morals. In June , in the Puritan town of Boston, a crowd gathers to witness an official punishment.
A young woman, Hester Prynne, has been found guilty of adultery and must wear a scarlet A on her dress as a sign of shame.
Furthermore, she must stand on the scaffold for three hours, exposed to public humiliation. Yet despite this rebellious behavior, the novel ends with Hester voluntarily returning to New England, and continuing wearing the scarlet letter. This hardly seems like a feminist act of rebellion. But in wearing the letter out of choice, not obligation, Hester actually continues her feminist self-determination.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a story about love and guilt. Written way ahead of its time and set in Puritan era Boston, this is a story about a woman, Hester Prynne, who lives her life like a criminal, yet never ceases to do as much good as she can. Get everything you need to know about Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter.
Analysis, related quotes, timeline. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Upgrade to A + Download this Lit Guide! (PDF) Introduction. Some Indians standing in the gathered crowd think Hester's scarlet letter is a mark of distinction. (full context) Chapter