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How does Hawthorne feel about Hester Prynne?

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flaka | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 15, 2007 at 12:42 PM via web

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How does Hawthorne feel about Hester Prynne?

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renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted November 15, 2007 at 6:44 PM (Answer #1)

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Hawthorne depicts the character of Hester as a woman with many heroic qualities. While in this novel of puritanical times, Hester is an adulterer who has a child out of wedlock, Hester is the character given the greatest number of admirable qualities.

Hester's "sin" is a matter that is ridiculed by the community, her punishment is public, and yet, she endures it without crying, anger, or naming the father. Hester does not subject the father of her child to the humiliation that she must endure.

Hawthorne also has the Hester's character experience redemption of a sort, in the way the townspeople who once were so harsh, now look to her for advice, and see her scarlet A as "able" rather than an "adulterer".

Hester was written a strong, kind woman who endured terrible hardships, yet remained charitable of spirit and action.

 

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shauger | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 15, 2007 at 6:49 PM (Answer #2)

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Hawthorne seems to like Hester, even admire her in many respects. She is the rose growing outside the prision - a splotch of color and brightness in contrast to the stern, gray Puritans (the prison).

However, like all of Hawthorne, she is very complex. We admire her honesty in dealing with her own sin, and yet it is her dishonesty (her refusal to identify Dimmesdale or Chillingworth) that adds to the sorrow of the book. The A she wears even changes its meaning from the impact of her character, to the point where many believe it must stand for "angel" or "able"

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 16, 2007 at 12:48 AM (Answer #3)

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Consider as well that Hester is the most religious of all the characters.  She is determined to atone for her sins, which is why she remains in the community rather than moving elsewhere, and why she leaves the "A" on even many years later.  She is charitable to all people, though the townspeople who feel they are more "moral" to her are vindicative, vicious, and hypocritical.  Hester alone has a strong faith and relationship with God.

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