The Scarlet Letter is a classical, romance novel written in 1850 by the famous American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. The story takes place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1642 to 1649. Even though there are four main characters, The Scarlet Letter centers around the sin committed by two of those characters and how that one sin affects everyone in their vicinity. That one sin brings hatred, humiliation, vengeance, and guilt to the main characters and their town.
Hester Prynne is one of the main developing characters in The Scarlet Letter who the townspeople view as a horrible sinner to make her ashamed of herself. In the beginning, she agrees with them but later realizes that her real identity comes from within herself and not what others think or say. Hence, Hester Prynne is a relatable character who committed a sin of passion and attempts to atone for that sin throughout the story.
In the first few pages of the book, Hawthorne gives his readers a lengthy description of Hester Prynne's physical appearance. He describes her as young and "tall, with a figure of perfect elegance" (51). Her face is lovely with attractive features and flawless skin. Hester's hair is dark, lustrous and bountiful. She is considered striking in a way that young-looking faces scarcely are.
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The way she possesses herself is regal and self-respecting, like noble women of the 1600s, not dainty like the ladies in the 1800s. Hawthorne points out that while exiting the prison, Hester had "never appeared more ladylike" (51). For example, the townspeople were thinking she would be weakened by her situation but were surprised to discover her attractiveness emanated like an aura to cloak the clouds of adversity that encompassed her.
The Scarlet Letter is a timeless, romantic book authored by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850. It is set in the middle of the seventeenth century during a time when a person's sins were revealed and punished by the town. Although this story has four major characters, it mostly focuses on the sin caused by two characters, the townspeople's reaction, and its effects on the characters and their town. Hester Prynne is one of the progressing characters viewed by the town as a terrible, shameful sinner.
At the beginning, she accepts the judgement but understands at the end that her true individuality is from inside herself and not what the townspeople believe or voice about her. Therefore, Hester Prynne is a pertinent character who committed a sin of desire, gets that sin revealed and punished by the town, and tries to do penance for it throughout the story.
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