Hester Prynne Character Study

In the book The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne is the protagonist. Hester is a good person who made a bad decision, which makes her a relatable character regardless of the year this book is read in. Hester is the protagonist, but at times she does seem more like a victim than heroine. “[Hester] 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 sunshine with a gleam, and a face which, besides being beautiful from regularity of feature and richness of complexion, had the impressiveness belonging to a marked brow and deep black eyes”(55).

Having long dark hair and black eyes, Hester Prynne was considered very pretty, even with all of the horrible things happening to heart that time. “Those who had before known her, and had expected to behold her dimmed and obscured by a disastrous cloud, were astonished, and even startled, to perceive how her beauty shone out, and made a halo of the misfortune and ignominy in which she was enveloped”(55). This means that even with all the problems she was facing she was, to others surprise, still pretty.

Another thing that came to become part of her, as she did not take it off for over 7 years, and therefore part of her physical appearance (as her daughter did not recognize her without it) was the Scarlet (or red) letter “A” that she wore upon her chest. Hester Prynne was very good at many things like sewing. When released from jail she became a seamstress. She even made the “A” that she has to wear. ” On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A.

It was so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it had all the effect of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel which she wore” (55). Many others were jealous of her skill. “She hath good skill at her needle, that’s certain,” remarked one of the female spectators” (56). Hester Prynne also hated Robert Chillingworth “Be it sin or no,” said Hester Prynne bitterly, as she still gazed after him [Chillingworth], “I hate the man! ”(182) While she disliked her husband, she cared about her daughter “Wouldst thou avenge thyself on the innocent babe? whispered she (75). Even when Pearl misbehaved she still took care of her. Hester also reacted differently to different situations for example, when seeing the crowd for the first time in front of the prison, she trys to hide her sins (Pearl and the red “A”) “It seemed to be her first impulse to clasp the infant closely to her bosom; not so much by an impulse of motherly affection, as that she might thereby conceal a certain token, which was wrought or fastened into her dress” (54). Also, after realizing Dimmesdale was dying, she got upset. Won’t we meet again? ” she whispered, bending her face down close to his. “Won’t we spend eternity together? Surely, surely, we have saved each other through all this misery! You see far into eternity now, with those bright dying eyes! Tell me what you see! ” (266) I think Hester did not want to be alone in her sins, and she had been close to loving him, so much that compared to how much she disliked Robert Chillingworth, she wished they would switch places and have Arthur Dimmesdale be her husband.

Another reaction was when Hester Prynne was shocked by how much the minister’s health had receded since her last encounter with him. “Hester Prynne was shocked at the condition to which she found the clergyman reduced. His nerve seemed absolutely destroyed. His moral force was abased into more than childish weakness. It groveled helpless on the ground, even while his intellectual faculties retained their pristine strength, or had perhaps acquired a morbid energy, which disease only could have given them” (Page 165).

Hester Prynne is a relatable character because she is a good person who made a bad decision, and that is something that still happens to people today. Hester was a very strong person to be able to go through all of her craziness and still walk around with her head held high. She dealt with her mistakes and the repercussions of them all while taking care of the people she loved. I think this proves Hester was a good person who had a weak moment and made a mistake, which just means she is human.

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