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Life and Lies of Hester Prynne

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In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the main character Hester Prynne is a woman that has to live a hard life. Because of her actions, she was made an outcast and shunned by society. There are many characteristics that describe Hester before she receives the scarlet letter, and characteristics that she develops as the novel progresses. Some of these characteristics show the positive affects of what has happened to her as a result of wearing the scarlet letter, and others are negative characteristics that she develops as a result of her banishment from Puritan society. The only way to find out who Hester is, we have to know what she was like before she had the scarlet letter, while she was wearing the scarlet letter, and after the novel is over. In any case Hester is by no means an easy person to understand. If she were an easy person to understand, then The Scarlet Letter would probably not be a great American novel.

To completely understand Hester, the reader has to look at her life before she was forced to wear the scarlet letter. In the early chapters of the book, it suggests what Hester was like before her to marriage to Chillingworth. It says that when she was a young child that she was a strong-willed and impetuous young woman. Hester has strong memories of her parents being loving guides who frequently had to restrain her incautious behavior. We know by the fact that she has an affair means that she once had a passionate nature. It is never revealed why exactly she decides to marry Chillingworth. When Chillingworth is described in the book, it says that he is much older than Hester, and that his body has several deformities. It is said that before Chillingworth came to America, that he was somewhat of a scholarly man when he lived in Europe. It says that Hester and Chillingworth lived in Amsterdam for a while, and that Chillingworth sent Hester to America alone while he stayed in Europe and finished up some business. After Hester has been in the Massachusetts Bay Colony for a while, she receives news that Chillingworth's ship has shipwrecked, and that Chillingworth is presumably dead. After this happens is thought to be when Hester commits adultery with Dimmesdale. During this whole period of time before she is forced to wear the scarlet letter, Hester reveals much about her character. She reveals that she is a beautiful woman that is full of passion. She is courageous for making the Atlantic crossing all on her own without her husband, that she is an adulterer for committing adultery with Dimmesdale, and that she is rebellious for going against Puritan law. Throughout the whole course of the novel though, Hester nevers believes that she committed adultery. Her husband is dead, so in her mind she was just expressing her love for Dimmesdale. And it's because of that love that she is given her punishment. "Hester Prynne can never honestly bring herself to regard her relations with Arthur Dimmesdale as sinful." (Sandeen 350)

The next stage of Hester's life follows the time period is the time period where she receives the scarlet letter, and the events that happened up until Dimmesdale's death. This event covers the vast majority of The Scarlet Letter and lasts for 7 years. A good condensed version of the story is that after 7 years Hester's lover reveals himself, and then he dies. But that is not the kind of elements that an author puts into their novel if they hope to make money from



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