Hester Prynne: The Ultimate Feminist Heroine In Nathaniel Hawthorne's American classic The Scarlet Letter the main character Hester Prynne is portrayed as the preeminent feminist heroine through the portraiture of her crime and punishment. In this novel, a Puritanical society in New England condemns Hester Prynne to wear a highly embossed depiction of the letter "A" on her breast as punishment for an act of adultery. How Hester handles the consequences of her castigation is what brings about the heroic feminist ic qualities of the main character. Three aspects that corroborate Hester Prynne's qualities are: 1.
Admitting her sin openly to fellow man and God, 2. Putting up with the taunting and social exile of her punishment, and 3. Aspiring above her torment to give love to her daughter Pearl and Pearl's father, Reverend Dimmesdale. Hester Prynne openly admits her sin to fellow man and God. From the first few pages of the book, we are confronted with the fact that Hester has mothered a child without being legally betrothed in marriage.
When the townspeople notice that Hester has broken one of God's laws, she is forced to stand in the middle of the town square upon a scaffold for a period of three hours, all for the purpose of public humiliation. Since adultery is one of the highest crimes that a mortal can commit in a Puritanical society, a tribunal quickly forms to decide that fate of the young malefactor. All the while, it could have been possible for Hester to abandon the baby to save herself from public torment and possibly the penalty of death. Nonetheless, Hester faces up to the reality of her acts and takes direct responsibility for them. To go even further, she does not even reveal the father of her illegitimate child for fear that he may suffer a fate worse than her own, which would most certainly be death. At the end of the period of time that she had to serve upon the scaffold, a crowd decides her punishment which was to wear the depiction of "The Scarlet Letter" on her breast.
Hester Prynne must put up with the taunting and social exile of her punishment from the second after she was condemned. The townspeople would consider her as an untouchable heathen who only only aired negative, evil energy. Children would be afraid of both Hester and Pearl as they casually walked down the street, deriding the two of them as if they were something less than human. In a sense, the children were not to blame for their actions. The children had merely learned their distinctive behaviors from the adult inhabitants of the town, who were the most prominent dis players of hate and abhorrence towards the mother and child. It is mentioned in the novel that Hester Prynne had been spotted "dancing in the woods with the Man In Black" and is often accused of practicing the work of the devil.
These are all prominent examples of lies that the community has conceived in an attempt to disconnect Hester and Pearl from society to an even greater extent and instill and even greater sensation fear and trepidation in the public's eye. It is felt throughout the book that Hester's situation is becoming increasingly more dismal, but her outer attitude towards all the negative events in her life stays basically the same. This attitude is directly responsible for the trivial amount of good fortune that she does have. For instance, she took on small alteration and sewing duties such as repairing the gloves of Governor Bellingham. All in all, the Puritanical community rejects almost every attempt of Hester's to reconnect herself with society at almost any chance that they get. Hester Prynne aspires above her torment to give love to her daughter Pearl and Pearl's father, Reverend Dimmesdale.
Even though Hester is an outcast within her people, she cares enough to provide all that she can for the comfort and well being of her daughter Pearl. It is spoken that Pearl is a devil child and has been possessed by a great evil because of the method of of her conception. When more and more people start to take to this viewpoint, rumors circulate that Pearl may be given to a more suitable guardian legal custody. Hearing this, Hester travels to the mansion of Governor Bellingham to calmly discuss the rumors. When they arrive, the Governor and his aides all admire Pearl and then seemingly connect her with evil when they see that she is the illegitimate child of Hester Prynne.
Hester and the governor's party then debate the capability of Hester as a mother. Nearing the end of the encounter the Governor is about to decree that Hester may not retain custody of Pearl, until the father of Pearl, Reverend Dimmesdale, steps in to argue Hester's point. He takes a Transcendentalist point of view by stating that some good must be evident within the child, so it is still attainable for Hester to reform Pearl's ways before she strays any farther from the light of goodness. The fact that Dimmesdale stood up for Hester and Pearl only strengthens the love that he and Hester share for each other.
At the beginning of the novel when Hester is standing on the scaffolding, she does not reveal the secret that Dimmesdale desperately wants her to keep; the secret of his wrongful fathering of Pearl. Hester puts herself through much more stress than she needs to by not revealing this secret over a seven long years, but her love for Dimmesdale is the only strong evidence that keeps her from revealing it. It has been thoroughly justified that in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne is portrayed as the ultimate feminist heroine through the delineation of her crime and punishment. How Hester handles the consequences of her chastisement is what brings about the heroic feminist ic qualities of Hester as the main character. The viewpoints that corroborate Hester Prynne's qualities are: 1. Admitting her sin openly to fellow man and God, 2.
Putting up with the taunting and extreme social exile of her punishment, and 3. Aspiring above her torment to give love, care and support to her daughter Pearl and Pearl's illegitimate father, Reverend Dimmesdale. Hester Prynne is the absolute epitome of a feminist heroine in all of American literature.