The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Characterization Essay

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The Scarlet Letter Characterization Letter

The Scarlet Letter is a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne that follows the story of Hester Prynne and her sinful path with another Puritan. Hester is a character with strength and courage, which is shown by Hawthorne as Hester's actions result in the Puritan society changing the letter's meaning. Dimmesdale does not have the same strength and courage that Hester does. Instead, Hawthorne characterizes him as a weak man who puts his public image before his private image. Even in the end Dimmesdale left Hester, alone, to deal with the fallout of his confession.

A marked woman from the beginning, Hester faced the scorn of the Puritan community with resolve. Hawthorne was able to show this through the many different sides of Hester Prynne's character, beginning with her name. Hester means star; stars are bright and bring attention to themselves, just as she was forced to do by being made to wear the scarlet letter.

Prynne is a play on the word prim, and also the phrase, "prim and proper," which Hester isn't in the eyes of the Puritan community, since she had an extramarital affair with Dimmesdale. It also relates to how Puritan society is "prim and proper," not allowing much expression or rebelliousness. Hawthorne uses this name because it helps describe what occurred in Hester Prynne's life, which leads to her having to wear the scarlet A.

Once Hester was punished and the scarlet letter introduced, Hawthorne defines both Hester and the scarlet letter at that moment. When it is first shown to the townspeople, Hester had a "burning blush, [but also] a haughty smile, and a glance that would not be abashed…" on her face (Hawthorne, 50). Instead of cowering and hiding her scarlet letter, Hester shows it off in a...