Scarlet Letter

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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Hester PrynneHester Prynne is the protagonist in The Scarlet Letter. When Hester was first presented in the novel, she was already attached to a scandal that was symbolized through the scarlet letter "A". Over the course of The Scarlet Letter, Hester helps the poor, needy, and sick, which portrays her selflessness. Hester also is a loving person, which is shown through Hester and her daughter Pearl's relationship. Hester's strength in character is shown by the way she handles the burden of the scralet letter. During The Scarlet Letter, Hester's character is presented as unselfish, loving, and strong.

In the beginning of The Scarlet Letter, as Hester walks to the scaffold from the prison, she holds her head up high and remains in public view without shedding a tear. During Hester's public shame on the scaffold, the reader can see that Hester is a strong person.

Hester's vigor in character is also indicated by the way Hester surrounds the scarlet letter with gold thread. Instead of making the letter "A" hidden, Hester allows the scarlet letter to stand out from the rest of her ensemble. Hester demonstrates to her peers that she is a hardy person and is not going to hide in the shadow of her sin.

Another aspect of Hester's character is her loving maternal instincts. Hester illustrates love for her daughter Pearl with her compassionate plea to the Governor and Dimmesdale, " 'God gave me this child!' cried she… 'She is my happiness… Pearl keeps me here in life' " (106). This plea displays Hester's affection for her daughter. Hester's love and concern for Pearl makes her wonder if her child is abnormal. " O Father in Cogburn 2 Heaven - - if Thou art still my Father - - what is this being which I have brought into the world?" Hester's continual concern for her daughter's well being shows that she is a caring and concerned mother.

Hester's selflessness is reflected in the services that she renders to the poor, needy, and sick. Her philanthropic way of living shows Hester's devotion for people more underprivileged than herself. " . . . She employed in making coarse garments for the poor" (76). Hester covers her luxuriant hair and wears dull and sober clothes without any ornamentation or appeal, which reflects Hester's desire for living for others. Hester, being talented at needlework, could make nice clothing for herself, but rather she chose to wear, " . . . the coarsest materials and most somber hue." This quote shows Hester's unselfish attitude towards life.

Hester was not drawn an easy deal in life. The everyday consequences of the scarlet letter were a heavy burden in Hester's life but she still managed to be a loving, selfless, and strong person.