Often, one of the most important aspects in a novel is a character sketch. It s the author s obligation to sufficiently provide a vivid description of each character. Hester Prynne is the main character in the novel The Scarlet Letter, and there are some key points Nathaniel Hawthorne uses to help the reader better understand the character. The first few chapters of the novel reveal many characteristics and actions of Hester Prynne including physical description, setting, thoughts, behavior, speech, and reaction of others.
First of all, the author creates a physical description for the main character. Hester Prynne is a fairly young woman who still possesses a lot of life within her. She is tall, has a slim build, and has brown hair. A part of Hester that stands out is the large embroidered A on all of her clothing. She must wear the A at all times as a punishment for adultery, the crime she has committed. This is a very serious crime for the time period.
The setting takes place in Boston, Massachusetts in a small community. The time period is in the seventeenth century, the Puritan era. In this case, the setting plays an important role in the story because adultery was a very serious crime for that time period. Also, it is important to know what a character s thoughts are. In this novel, Hester Prynne constantly has a lot on her mind.
She holds some slight remorse for her crime, but deep down inside, she feels that the community is being too hard on her. Even though she feels this way, she does not hold self pity, she holds pride. Also, she is threatened with losing her daughter, Pearl, whom she is very attached to and will not give up without a fight. Hester is also worried about Dimsdale s well-being, so she does not want the community to know that she had the affair with him.
In addition to the way Hester thinks, the way she speaks to the community reflects her thoughts She always gets her point across, but still manages to keep a polite and respectful tone. The behavior that Hester displays to other community members is always very polite and she has exceptional manners. Despite her morals and respectful attitude towards other community members, the majority of them despise her, and this is shown many ways such as when some townswomen say At the very least, they should have put the brand of an iron on Hester Prynne s forehead, (page 51). People glare at her with strong disapproval, and even an infinitesimal hint of envy. Although the majority of society dislikes her, there are a few select people that respect her, one of them being father Dimsdale. He is always kind to her partly because he feels sorry for her, and partly because her torment is somewhat his fault.
Obviously, Hester Prynne is a very complex character. The way that Nathaniel Hawthorne describes Hester makes it very easy to relate to her problems. Character descriptions are essential in order to completely understand a character s thoughts and actions. It is important to know details about a character, and in this case, the author is very adept in doing so with the quintessence of writing skills. Obviously, a character description plays a major role in every story.