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Hester Prynne is the protagonist of the novel The Scarlet Letter, which was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850. This novel, taken place in a small Puritan town, tells of a young wedded woman who commits a scandalous crime and has to face her harsh consequences. Hester Prynne traveled to the small Puritan town without the company of her husband. Her husband had currently been studying medicine in far off countries, and had planned on meeting his wife, Hester, later on.
When Hester arrived to the new town, she did not quite fit in with the other Puritan women. She was extravagant in her presentation and was not accustomed to the modesty of the Puritan lifestyle. She was, tall, with figure of perfect elegance. She had dark and abundant hair, besides being beautiful in face, she had the impressiveness belonging to a marked brow and deep black eyes. She was lady-like, characterized by a certain state and dignity. (Hawthorne p. 276) All of this beauty drew the attention of the Puritans towards her. Although Hester's beauty was noticed by many, it was captured specifically by the young Reverend Dimmesdale.
Hester was also down in by he young and handsome Reverend. Their passion for each other became too much for them to with-stand, and the crime of adultery was committed. Hester became impregnated by her adultery and was sent to prison as the conviction for her crime. Hester remained in the prison until her baby was born. She named her daughter Pearl, meaning, a great treasure. This was a suitable name for Hester's daughter because Pearl truly was a treasure to her mother.
Upon that day, Hester and her baby were brought before the Puritan community to receive Hester's eternal punishment and also to reveal the father of her child. Hester's punishment was not only her imprisonment during her pregnancy, but she was also forced to wear an embroidered scarlet letter A patched on the chest of her clothing. The letter A stood for Adultery. This letter was for the purpose of a reminder, and embarrassment to the beholder, and a mockery for the townspeople. Hester was to wear the scarlet letter A at all times. This did not seem to abash Hester the slightest bit, for she was haughty and had a determined spirit of hope.
As for the revealing of Pearls father, Hester did not dare to ruin the reputation of the man she loved, and so she refused to speak his name. Hester simply ignored the townspeople and accepted her punishment. Throughout the story Hester not only kept the identity of her childs father anonymous, but also did not reveal who her husband was. She did this for the sake of saving the mens embarrassment. Although, Hester's adulterer was not kept a secret forever. In the conclusion of the story, Dimmesdale was driven by his remorse to reveal his overwhelming sin that he had committed with Hester Prynne.
That is where the guilt of the sin was wiped away. No secrets were held, and Hester felt free. Hester Prynne underwent many changes throughout the story. The symbolic beautifully embroidered letter A is what brought on some of her biggest changes.
No longer did Hester's scarlet letter obtain its original meaning, but instead it stood for Able, strong with a womans strength. The effect of the symbol, in the mind of Hester Prynne, was powerful and peculiar. All the light and graceful foliage of her character had been withered up by this red-hot brand, and had long ago fallen away. (Hawthorne, p. 379) Her face now, was described as marble coldness (Hawthorne, p. 380) which was to be attributed to the circumstance that her life had turned from passion and feeling to thought. Hester Prynne had taken the heartache and punishment of the ungodly crime and had learned how to be a woman of strength.
Hester had long before learned what had taken Dimmesdale so long to obtain: Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred! (Hawthorne, p. 384)
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