How is Melinda from Speak similar to Hester from The Scarlet Letter?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that a case can be made as to how Melinda bears similarity to Hester.  Both are socially maligned.  Their social maligning happens because society was wrong in its judgment of each.  At the same time, both characters do not capitulate or take their own lives in the wake of being socially ostracized.  Instead, they both use the opportunity to empower one another.  While they were both done wrong by men who had ulterior motives and a social order that refused to validate their voices and experiences, both women use the opportunity to serve as a reminder to these very social orders of how wrong they actually are.  In both of their presences, the reader understands quite vividly how wrong social orders can be and how the practices of demonization and isolation rarely help anyone.  This is how both characters end up reclaiming their voices and learn to “speak” in their own ways.

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