What is Hawthorne's message of the Scarlet Letter relating to Women Specifically?
3 Answers | Add Yours
You could argue that Hawthorne was telling women not to commit the sin of adultery, because Hester's life was pretty difficult afterward. You could also say that he is suggesting that women be tough, because Hester does make a decent existence for herself and her child on her own.
Hawthorne associates Hester with the feminist attitudes of his own time. Hawthorne portrays Hester as a sympathetic rebel whose passions and actions lead to unpleasant consequences for herself, her daughter Pearl, as well as Dimmesdale and Chillingworth. She leaves Boston after Dimmesdale's death, but returns later, puts on the scarlet letter again, and teaches younger women to be more patient and conservative than she was in her youth.
My take on Hawthorne's views about feminism in The Scarlet Letter is that women should be more gradual and conservative in striving for equal rights. You could easily argue that Hawthorne is sympathetic towards feminism, but I don't think you can argue that TSL is a pro-feminist novel--at least not "feminism" as we understand it today in our more liberal and progressive terms.
I feel as if Hawthorne is trying to tell women that no matter how hard things get doing the right thing can be very simple. It might take some courage but he brings out, through Hester's character, that you have to keep your dignity, whatever is left, in order to survive. I think Hawthorne was a man who really respected women and didnt veiw them as a piece of garbage unlike many around his time and around the time that the scarlet letter was placed in.
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes