Hester vs. Her Adversities
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a historical novel set in 17-century New England. It's a disturbing tale of Hester Prynne, a woman caught in a conflict between puritan ethics of her community and the law of her own love. The struggle is seen between the laws of the bible and those of her own moral authority. In this novel, Prynne survives through her trials and torments and triumphs over her adversities.
Society fails Hester during her judgment on the scaffold in the first scene. Throughout her public condemning, the "women in the crowd make disparaging comments," the children taunt her," and the "men stare"(47). The townspeople view Prynne as someone whose transgressions are unforgivable and outweigh their own sins. In response to the crowd's reaction, Hester rises above her adversities, and rather than struggle against reality, she accepts her sins and doesn't attempt to reject her sentencing.
In fact, the flashy manner at which she embroiders here symbol of shame seems to declare that she is proud, rather than ashamed, of her sin.
The men in Hester Prynne's life fail to suffice as moral human beings. Chillingworth lacks compassion, threatening his wife to "Beware of his hands," instilling "terror" in Hester's heart (71). Likewise, Dimmesdale falls short of his responsibilities as a father and a lover, refusing to "stand with [Pearl] and [Pearl's] mother" out of pure fear of losing the stature of his own image in the community (141). Prynne's reaction to these betrayals is one of bravery and independence. Rather than reveal the identities of the traitors that play a role in her situation, she vows to "Keep thy secret," surviving and raising her child in exile and solitude.
Hester Prynne herself occasionally allows herself to stumble, permitting her faith...