Please analyze the character of Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I love watching the strength in Hester Prynne throughout The Scarlet Letter. She is one of those characters that serves as a model for us as members in a society, because she grows. Many people accept life as it is and work for nothing more than the status quo.

Hester's life started out with a terrible stain, not only does she accept it, but she takes what it is and does the honorable thing at every turn even if it causes scrutiny, and that doesn't feel good. Maintaining a love for a child that increasingly tries to hurt her, keeping the secret of a man who would have a reputation destroyed, and being completely modest in her work and appearance all contribute to her character's strength and growth. Looking for quotes that illustrate these three qualities would help develop a strong paper if you are writing about this.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Hester Prynne's character is dynamic, meaning, it changes throughout the course of the book.  At the beginning, we see her as a proud, ostracized woman struggling with her lot in life.  But as the book goes on, she gains strength, humility, confidence and peace.  She learns to serve the community without bitterness, to make better her lot in life, and to provide a living for her and her child.  Her changing character can also be seen in the changing attitudes of the townspeople towards her.  At first they judged and mocked, reviled and rejected.  But as time went on, they learned to love her and rely upon her services and kindness.  Some even considered her an angel of goodness and light.

When considering her character, keep the changes that she goes through in mind.  We can also infer that before the events of the novel even began that she was a beautiful woman with a strong mind, who followed the instincts of her heart, rather than society's dictations of behavior.  Through her refusal to reveal the baby's father's name, we can infer that she is very loyal, true, patient and selfless, because she is willing to bear the suffering for her sin alone.  She is not vindictive or bitter.

I hope that those thoughts help to get you started; good luck!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial