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The Scarlet Letter

Essay by   •  January 28, 2014  •  Essay  •  491 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,579 Views

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Nathaniel Hawthorne describes Hester's change of personality in the The Scarlet Letter. Hester's transformation begins when she is forced to wear a scarlet letter A on her chest as punishment for her crime of adultery. Because of her penalty, she becomes a stronger, more independent person, one who grows in her kindness and generosity. As a result of her punishment, she also transforms herself into a strict conservative woman, showing both guilt and tenacity. Subjectively, she reforms into a better person, although she gains some disagreeable qualities as well.

As a result of the town's scorn and rejection, Hester becomes strong and independent. To manifest her independence, she chooses to live in solitude with Pearl on the outskirts of town, and supports herself and her daughter by devoting her time and ability to embroidery. She never asks for help from anyone and raises Pearl completely on her own. Hester shows that she needs neither kindness nor approval from the town. Instead, she obtains the strength to resist the normal human desire to belong and instead accepts her punishment. These characteristics demonstrate that Hester's personality changes from a dependent one of a person involved with the community to one resolute and detached from society's temptations.

As further effect of her punishment, Hester's heart also fills with kindness and generosity. She tries to compensate for her crime by giving to the poor and helping the sick, even after they scorn her. After her years of compassion, the leaders in the community finally relent and propose to remove the scarlet A. In spite of their offer, Hester refuses the removal, and eventually people transfer the meaning of the A as able, instead of adulteress. These qualities exemplify Hester's humanity and benevolence in her changed character.

After her conviction of adultery and as a result of her guilt, Hester changes herself into a strict and conservative woman. To demonstrate her conservatism, she wears a long, shapeless, dull gray dress when making trips into town. In order to display her shame and ignominy, she pulls her hair back and covers it with a cap. She also chooses to stay in this Puritan town and serve her punishment, when she could go elsewhere and obtain more freedom. These characteristics not only show how guilty Hester felt, but also her determination to compensate for her sin.

Whether for better or worse, Hester's punishment undeniably affects her character. Hester's conviction causes her to gain strength, sympathy, and guilt. If the town never inflicted her punishment, she would most likely have less despair, loneliness, and shame. On the contrary, she would not have many of her good qualities, such as her determination and compassion. Because of these alterations to her personality, Hester obtained the ability to teach many people valuable lessons and help the sick and poor. Therefore, many people

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