Scarlet Letter Society Essay

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.’ Essay

1047 Words5 Pages

An outsider is someone who functions outside or on the verge of society; someone who is alienated, misunderstood or misjudged by a person or group of people. To be an outsider would be to hold views of a controversial nature, usually the opposite of what is socially acceptable. Hester Prynne is such an example. It is through the use of her as an outsider; her actions, opinions, morals and portrayal which show how The Outsider Novel is or isn’t just another name for the novel of social protest.
Upon reading The Scarlet Letter, it would be safe to assume that Nathaniel Hawthorne is using the protagonist, Hester Prynne, as a scapegoat through whom he can socially protest. Social protest could be defined as when the author uses a character…show more content…

It should be noted that whilst Hester is not fully accepted by society at one point, a few citizens here and there referred to her as ‘our Hester – the town’s own Hester…’ Individuals or small clusters of people begin to treat Hester with a slightly less untoward attitude yet whilst the crowd is in its multitude, they do not dare enter the circumference which forms around her. This highlights the segregation between Hester and the rest of the society.
Hester’s segregation is furthermore emphasised by her choice of home. She lives ‘on the outskirts of town, within the verge of the peninsula, but not in close vicinity to any other habitation… abandoned, because the soil about it was too sterile for cultivation, while its comparative remoteness put it out of the sphere of social activity…’ Hester’s geographical detachment from society correlates with the mental and emotional detachment between her and the citizens. One could ask the question, ‘Is Hawthorne creating an outsider with whom we feel pity and remorse?’ ‘Would our opinion of that society be different if there wasn’t an outsider?’ As previously mentioned, he is socially protesting: highlighting the societal attitude towards Hester emphasises how this could not be achieved without an outsider and how the terms ‘The Outsider Novel’ and

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Individual Vs. The Society In "The Scarlet Letter" By Nathaniel Hawthorne

In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the theme of the individual versus society is prevalent. One of the most intriguing characters in the novel is Hester Prynne, who is ostracized by the society around her. Hawthorne uses symbols to accentuate how Hester chooses to accept her branded punishment as a moral obligation rather than a mark of shame. Her individualism is achieved through a clear conscience and accepting the fact that she is unique, distanced from the Puritans surrounding her.

Immediately, The Scarlet Letter sets up a clear contrast between Hester and the other ladies in Boston, Massachusetts. Hester emerges from the prison as a gorgeous woman who was,

"tall, with a figure of perfect elegance on a large scale. She had dark and abundant hair, so glossy that it threw off the susnhine with a gleam, and a face which ,beside being beautiful from regularity of feature and richness of complexion... was ladylike, too, after the manner of the feminine gentility of those days; characterized by a certain state and dignity." (Narrator, p. 46-47)

Meanwhile, the other women in Boston are portrayed as gossiping quacks who ridicule Hester out of jealousy and spite. Hester is further distanced from the mob throng through her elegant garb and her skill of needle-work.

While on the scaffold, and later when she moves into a cottage distanced from everyone else, Hester remains defiant. She asserts her quasi rebellious personality by not wavering amid the penetrating stares of the townspeople. In addition, she chooses to stay in Boston rather than take the opportunity to escape and start a new life. By running away, Hester would be acknowledging society's power of her. Instead, she desires to establish her own identity and not have society determine it for her. If Hester were to succumb to outside pressure, it would further undermine what little integrity the townspeople see in her. However, the cruel taunts are meaningless to her, because Hester is adamant in her convictions; she has a genuine purpose in life.

Her daughter Pearl is an important part of Hester's life. Much more than a...

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