Nathaniel Hawthorne's character Hester Pyrnne in "The Scarlet Leter"

Essay by david2dtHigh School, 11th gradeA, March 2003

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In the novel The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne undergoes both physical and emotional revelations. Hester is directly affected by the consequences of breaking moral and social codes of behavior. The novel is a story of a young woman who commits adultery, and stays strong when the community harasses her. She will not reveal the identity of her daughter Pearl's father. In the end of the novel, Arthur Dimmesdale, Pearl's father, reveals to the townspeople that he is an unworthy minister for committing such a sin.

In the beginning of the novel, Hester is portrayed as a young and elegantly beautiful mother who is being punished for a horrid sin. The townspeople think of her as a haughty and wretched woman, and her punishment should be much harsher. "The magistrates are God-fearing gentlemen, but merciful overmuch-that is a truth" (Hawthorne, 38). When she comes out of the jailhouse, a beautifully sewn letter "A" is embroidered onto her breast.

The townspeople see this as her taking light of her punishment.

In the middle of the novel, Hester has become a more mature woman. Her passion, embroidery, and her compassion towards others become apparent. Also, she shows responsibility and courage by going to the governor's house and asking to have custody of her daughter, Pearl. She defends her argument by stating " I can teach my Pearl what I have learned from this!" (Hawthorne, 84). She now lives in a thatched cottage on the outskirts of town, and has become ignored somewhat by the townspeople.

At the end of The Scarlet Letter, Hester is now a woman who is looked up to. The townspeople's view on the meaning of the scarlet "A" has changed from "adultery" to "able", because she is able to care for herself, others, and Pearl.