Identity theme in Scarlet letter

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. ” The word character can be defined as the features and traits that form the individual nature of someone or also known as their identity. The main character Hester is the person who struggles the most with the idea of character. The word character is essential to the novel in describing the main theme of identity to the audience.

The scarlet letter is a defining moment In Hester life where she is faced with the dilemma of letting society decide her character or for her to determine her A significant moment in the book was when Hester decided not to leave Boston after being publicly humiliated and forced to wear the badge of shame. Hester was given the chance to leave Boston and lead a normal life somewhere else without wearing the scarlet letter, but she chose not to.

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Hester even scoffs when Chlorinating suggests that the town father’s were considering letting her remove the letter. Hester believes that removing the letter or running away would only show society the control they have over her. Hester desired to determine her own identity. She wanted to show that the letter was not a mark of shame she was trying to escape, UT a symbol of the person she had been made into because of it. Hester showed throughout the book how she changed the scarlet letter to represent her experiences and her true character.

An Important quote that shows these Ideas Is, “The scarlet letter was her passport Into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers-stern, and wild ones-and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss” (Hawthorne 180). The meaning of the scarlet letter changes all the way through the book from meaning Adultery to Able because of Hester character. Her past crime is part of her and for her to deny what she had already done would be denying apart of herself.

In a Puritan society dominated by the necessity to reform, only those who separated themselves from the strict expectations of the community may have the chance of fully developing their true identity. Although the Puritans had come over to New England seeking religious freedom, they were not accepting of any other practice but their own in the new world. Hester could have chosen to follow the crowd, or go her own path, choosing what she believes is right for her. Her isolation from society is the actual thing that granted her power to find her natural character.

In the wilderness of her cabin, she was free to speak and act as she saw Just. Hester was knowledgeable to realize that her sins made her who she was. Without admitting them to herself and others, she would not be honest about who she really was. “Then, she was supported by an unnatural tension of the nerves and by all the combative energy of her character, which enabled her to convert the scene into a kind of lurid triumph” (Hawthorne 72). Although there were many pressures from society to conform, Hester resisted and was able to become her own unique person. Sees this word and idea to promote finding an inner true self. This cannot be accomplished if society runs from their problems or keeps secrets. Hester is able to reveal her true character because she followed her own gut feelings regarding morality and did not let others define who she was. In order to truly be one’s real self, person must show all their traits and share their experiences with someone else, or even admit it to themselves if they want to even start to understand their true nature.

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Identity theme in Scarlet letter. (2018, Feb 07). Retrieved from