One of the most prominent characters in Nathaniel Hawthorn’s “The Scarlet Letter” Is Hester Prone, the young adulteress whose forbidden actions have led her to become a representation of sin to the Puritanical community around her. However, these negative views of her ironically grant Hester Prone the freedom to govern her own life, without the rigid constrictions of the patriarchal society in which she lives. During the time period that Hester lives in, women were generally treated as inferior and Incompetent beings.
Hester however, Is portrayed as a strong and Independent hereafter. All the women in Hester town are tied to a man, whether it is a father or a husband or a brother, who makes decisions for them, and supports them volcanically. Hester has no obligatory ties to a male figure, and can therefore make all her own decisions. She is also required to work to support herself, as she has no male figure to depend on for financial income. In the book, Hester fully supports both herself and her daughter, Pearl, by selling her needlework.
Both her lack of a male guide and how she independently works to support herself are strong indications hat Hester is a self-sufficient and independent woman, who does not need a man to help her survive. Despite the fact that Hester is entirely capable of sustaining herself and Pearl, many of the town’s authority figures still look down upon her. At one point In the novel, a group of the leading male authorities tried to take Pearl away from her mother, because of a strange misconception that Pearl was not being properly cared for. Old Reverend John Wilson tries to explain, “The child shall be well cared for! Far better than thou cants do it” (Hawthorne 103). With this one quote, Hester is both patronized and demeaned by the old minister. He is insulting her capabilities as a mother, and at the same time trying to cajole her Into giving up her only child. On a more vague level, the old man is also insulting Hester intelligence, if he thinks a woman would give away a child when they hear his half-hearted attempt at persuasion. This section of the novel Is basically showing how males In the society believed that females should obey demands without question, because the males supposedly know what’s best for everyone.
At the beginning of the book, as Hester Prone exits the prison, one woman from the crowd says of Hester, “This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die. Is there not a law for It? Truly. There Is. Both In the Scripture and the statute-book. Then let the magistrates, who have made it of no effect, thank themselves if their own wives and daughters go astray! ” (49). This quote provides a clear look into the view that women had of themselves at the time. They seem to believe that women are expect to behave accordingly at all times, and it is up to their male counterparts to pep them in line, so to speak.
Instead of feeling sympathetic towards Hester, the and obedient creatures that women were expected to be. Ere only male character in this entire novel that shows any discernible shred of concern for Hester emotions is Reverend Arthur Timescale. But, this concern is not always solely for Hester, because sometimes Hester well-being is linked directly to whether or not Damselfly’s powerful secret is revealed. However, this partially selfish concern is much better than what the other males in this book offer Hester.
Some mock her, such as Roger Chlorinating, while others patronize and demean her, such as Governor Bellingham. Needless to say, there is a severe lack of concern when it comes to Hester Prune’s thoughts and feelings. On the whole, Hester Prone was a woman ahead of her time. She was a young, single mother working to support her only child, and she fought back against authority fugues that tried to take her child away from her. Even though she was looked down upon by society for her sin, in actuality, she had more integrity than any nee of them.
She accepted her punishment gracefully, she took the blame and did not reveal the name of her accomplice, she worked hard and honestly to earn a living, she did her best to regain respect in the community, and the list goes on. Though she committed an adulterous sin, Hester Prone was still able to live a full, healthy, honorable, and commendable life. Because of her independence, perseverance, and immense amounts of inner strength, Hester Prone has allowed herself to become fully worth of all admiration.