Hester Prynne: Learning And Changing



Hester Prynne is as ripe a protagonist as any for learning and changing throughout the course of a novel. She is a new mother and a publicly condemned and ostracized woman in a highly moral and tight knit Puritan community. Her very position in life, first child in hand and scarlet letter on bosom, demands that she learn and grow in some direction, for she is a woman strong enough to endure public shame and go on.
It is not insignificant to note that Hawthorne considers the very fact of her learning and enduring at all, as opposed to succumbing and being defeated, under the weight of adverse circumstance, an evidence of her strength: "...when [a] woman has encountered, and lived ...

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in her thoughts and feelings toward her husband, known in the time frame of the novel as Roger Chillingworth, and to her lover, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale.
Early on, Hester recognizes that the scarlet letter has and will continue to impart lessons to her: "I can teach my little Pearl what I have learned from this...this badge hath taught me, - it daily teaches me, - it is teaching me at this moment,- lessons whereof my child may be the wiser and the better, albeit they can profit nothing to myself." (111) Years of thought (which estrangement from society made room for and forced upon her) reinforced for Hester the value of truth "I who the scarlet letter has disciplined in truth, though it be the truth of a red-hot iron, entering into the soul..." (173), and also inspired Hester to speculate on the nature and value of her society's mores. She is able to look as if from a foreigner's point of view at the institutions of her culture, and "[t]he tendency of her fate and fortunes had ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 5/15/2004 02:24:47 AM
Category: Book Reports
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 644
Pages: 3

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