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In The Scarlet Letter, what do you think Mr. Hawthorne's attitude about Hester's...

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hannahbannna | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted November 14, 2011 at 7:04 AM via web

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In The Scarlet Letter, what do you think Mr. Hawthorne's attitude about Hester's situation is?

I am guessing that Hawthorne thinks she is not that bad, since he makes her become "Able" and since Dimmesdale said Chillingworth had done way worse than they had, but I am really not sure. Any help would be great! Thank you so much for you time.

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 14, 2011 at 7:48 AM (Answer #1)

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I think Hawthorne saw injustice in his own society, but it was easier to have his message accepted if he wrote about a society of the past. This particular past hit home with him because a great-grandfather of his actually ruled during the era of the Puritans, specifically in Salem, site of the famed witch trials.

Hawthorne's attitude toward Hester seems very compassionate. He positions his reading audience to see the great pain that the secret, the society, the child, the physician, and the minister put on her. Although she did commit a great crime, readers feel like excusing the crime by the end of the book because of all the guilt and shame she endures. It is almost as if Hawthorne was sending a message to his own society to reconsider how harshly they treat each other. This was important because during the 1840s and 1850s, the United States underwent dramatic change as far as religious groups went. The US also experienced an emerging national identity. Americans believed in their country. I think Hawthorne wanted to make sure they were believing in the right ideas.

Hester reflects the average American person who found trouble. Hawthorne believes that redemption is possible for the human soul. He demonstrates through Hester that when life struggles occur, people can work through them and not just grow, but eventually thrive.


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