Born on the fourth of July in 1804, Nathaniel Hawthorne ranks with Herman Melville, Henry James, and Mark Twain among the best 19th century American male novelists. His masterpiece The Scarlet Letter ensures his perceptual fame in the history of American literature. The novel is set in the 17th century New England region under the rules of Puritan magistrate. It tells the ups and downs of Hester Prynne, an adulteress. Through the description of the fate of Hester Prynne, Hawthorne explores the lives and fates of the women at that time.
Through the analysis of Hester's behaviors and inner world, we can find that under Hawthorne's depicts, Hester becomes a woman who has strong feminist consciousness, which makes her a new woman beyond her own age. As an inelegant adulteress, Hester never yields or gives up. She pursues her true love, her independence and her equality. It makes her completely different from her contemporaries. She is a new woman who possesses feminist spirits. It is Hester's difference from her contemporaries that makes The Scarlet Letter enduring in literary history. Through the study of Hester Prynne, we can have a better understanding about women's living condition and cause more people to attach importance to women's experience and values. This paper will analyzes the protagonist from three images of sinner, rebel and angel.
Key words: Hawthorne, Hester Prynne, Sinner, Rebel, Angel
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) is an extremely renowned American writer of fiction. He not only has created quite a few classic novels, but also has written quantities of thought-provoking short stories.
Hawthorne's works mainly include four romances: The Scarlet Letter, The House of The Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance, and The Marble Faun, three short stories collections: Twice Told tales, Moss from an Old Manse, and Snow Image and Other Twice Told Tales, and two myth collections: A Wonder---Book for Girls and Boys and Tangle wood Tales for Girls and Boys.
Among them The Scarlet Letter is regarded not only as his greatest accomplishment, but frequently as the greatest novel in American literary history. The Scarlet Letter presents a sad tale of love and betrayal set within the context of seventeenth-century Puritan New England. The heroine Hester Prynne, a young wife, whose elderly husband is presumed dead on the voyage to colonial Boston, violates her marriage vows by engaging in asexual relationship with the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale and gives a birth to a baby. She is convicted of adultery by Boston's Puritan preachers and condemned to wear the scarlet letter "A" on her chest as a permanent sign of her sin. Throughout the novel she faces humiliation by the other people of Boston, but never loses her sense of pride. Hester Prynne suffers enormously from the shame of her public disgrace and from the isolation of her punishment; however, she retains her self-respect and survives her punishment with dignity, grace, and ever-growing strength of character.
Since the publication of The Scarlet Letter, it arouses numerous comments from various points of view. Some comments mainly focus on Hester, discussing her as a rebellious figure and a new female image. As a common female, she has her own frailty and defects, while Hester overcomes her frailty and defects at the help of great Christian spirit. Concerning the Christian spirit, one fact cannot be neglected, i.e. what is the essence of the Christian spirit. In addition, like Jesus Christ, Hester’s life course experiencing sin, hardships and redemption is the embodiment of the Christian spirit as well. Hester redeems herself due to her tolerance, philanthropy, devotion, sacrifice and faithfulness. In this thesis, the focus is also on Hester. But it is going to analyze the image of Hester in the Scarlet Letter.
Chapter 1 Hester as a Sinner
Since sin is crucial to the discussion of this article, we would examine its meaning in the first place. “From the religious viewpoint, sin designates the manifold forms of deviation from juridical, social, moral, and intra-religious norms. Connected with the conceptual address of sin, then, is the religious discourse upon the normative, the ritual, juridical, moral, and social construction of order and disorder.” (Brill:1738) From the foregoing, we could see that three key concepts are essential to comprehend sin: norms, deviation, and reproduction of the social order. Norms are those rules or customs that keep the society in order, which is made up of individuals having their own free will and seeking their own benefits. If there is no restriction on individual’s actions, the society will be in a mess. Any deviation from social norms is seen as a threat to the whole society and sin is a serious departure from established social order and will pose a terrible threat to the existence of the community. For the sake of the order of society, our ancestors make rules of do’s and don’ts. If any individual breaks the rule, he or she will get punished. Thus, the society is restored to its normal state and people live their life as usual. In a word, sin is prescribed to keep the society in order.
1.1Commiting Adultery with Pastor
Hester Prynne Hester Prynne, the heroine of this novel, is sinful. This is because of her adultery crime with Arthur Dimmesdale. She knows that this kind of misbehavior is an offend to God, but cannot resist from the adultery “haste” just as her name indicates. (“Hester” is the homophone of the word “haste”. She gets married to Roger Chillingworth, but falls in love with Arthur Dimmesdale hastily while her husband still at the ship that going to New England and gives birth to Pearl.) For her crime she is condemned to wear on the breast of her gown the scarlet letter “A”, which stands for “adultery”.
Shamed and alienated from the rest of the community, Hester faces her crime bravely. She cares for the poor, and brings them food and clothing, tries her best to be helpful to others to atone her misdeeds. By the end of the novel, Hester has become a proto-feminist mother figure to the women of the community. The shame attached to her scarlet letter is completely gone now.
Through this kind of narration, Hawthorne shows his view that, humanity were born sinful, and even committed more serious sin in life, but sin is not unforgivable. People can receive forgiveness from God by kind doings.
Hester was born sinful. According to the principle of original sin, since Adam and Eve were expelled from The Garden of Eden, they have brought disasters to all ages. Everyone was born sinful. Hester Prynne is not an exception too. As the offspring of Adam and Eve, she was also born with the blood of them, and must take the path of atonement as others, so she is sinful at the beginning of his life, and must be suffering in his life.
Hester suffers not only because of mankind’s original sin, but also because of her adultery with Dimmesdale. Hester is the wife of Chillingworth, however, she couldn’t control her vicious desire and have a love affair with the minister Dimmesdale. That’s not forgivable according to Catholicism. That’s insult to God. In such a situation, Hester Prynne forgot God’s instruction and was completely degenerated. She is a sinner to God. So from the very day of her crime, Hester Prynne has to bear all the sufferings that follow. Hester’s behavior is disgraceful and she is looked down upon by others. Although Hester Prynne tries to make the scarlet "A" as beautiful as an ornament and herself like a graceful grandeur dame, as one woman in the crowd describes: “the pang of it will be always in her heart”. (Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1962,44)
If all the things make Hester feel humiliating, the recognition of her husband in the market place aggravates her bad feeling and even frightens her severely. Then when she is sent back to the jail, she is exciting and can't control herself and even hurt her poor little baby. When the doctor ---in fact Hester's real husband comes in, she immediately become as still as death. After their talk, Hester promised to keep his real identity. This makes her not only guilty, but also crisis -ridden.
Is there any standard we judge a person sinful or not? The answer is positive. The criterion should be specific and accepted by most people. Moreover, since the story is set in Puritan period, we should notice the strong religious influence upon people’s mind. Thus we can only use God’s criterion to judge a person is sinful or not. God’s criteria are the Ten Commandments and the Seven Deadly Sins.
Quite obviously, Prynne is sinful because she disobeys the seventh commandment by sleeping with Dimmesdale who is not his husband while her husband is in European continent. That’s unpardonable to Christianity. Adultery is about spiritual sins rather than sensual ones. Thus she must be duly punished. In chapter two of the novel, Hester Prynne, holding an infant, emerges from the prison door and makes her way to a scaffold, where she is to be publicly condemned. On her breast there is a letter “A” (means adultery) which she is doomed to wear in her lifetime. The wearing of the letter “A” stands for spiritual punishment which will warn the would-be followers. We could see this in the novel:
"The magistrates are God fearing gentlemen, but merciful overmuch-that is a truth," added a third autumnal matron. "At the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynne’s forehead. Madame Hester would have winced at that, I warrant me. But she-the naughty baggage-little will she care what they put upon the bodice of her gown Why, look you, she may cover it with a brooch, or such like heathenish adornment, and so walk the streets as brave as ever".
"Ah, but," interposed, more softly, a young wife, holding a child by the hand, "let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart”(Hawthorne: page 5)
Moreover, according to Brook Thomas, “for the Puritans Hester’s greatest sin would not have been her adultery, but her defiant cry that what the two lovers did ‘had a consecration of its own’. Resonating with so many readers, this proclamation is sinful because it implies that Hester’s and Dimmesdale’s love is a self-contained act, not one in need of God’s sanction”(Cambridge Companion:164-165)
1.2 Atoning for Her Crime
Sin must be atoned. Sinners must be punished. Prynne is condemned not only when she is paraded through the streets but also in her daily contact with people. After her confinement, she knows a real torture will come. Because of her sin, she is shutout of "the sphere of human charities”. She lives on needle work and does quite well in it. But no bride uses the white veil embroidered by Prynne to cover their pure faces. For all that Prynne feels more sensitive to the letter on her breast as time goes by, she don’t give her up hopelessly. Instead, she tries her best to redeem her sins.
First, she is willing and ready to help the needy people. The Bible tells us that: “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act”(Proverbs 3: 27)Prynne does so “She was quick to acknowledge her sisterhood with the race of man, whenever benefits were to be conferred”. She is ready to give her little substance to the poor people even though in return she is insulted by those people; in all kinds of calamity, the outcast will find solace in her; she always attend the sick-chamber. Thus she is regarded as "a well-spring of human tenderness, unfailing to every real demand, and inexhaustible by the largest”. By her own kind deeds to the people around her, the letter A’s meaning transfer from to "Adultery" to "Able” which means the community begins to approve her redemption.
Second, Prynne has firm faith in God. Bible tells us: Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in love, in life, in faith and in purity”(Timothy 4: 12-16) In the novel we know Prynne thinks she maybe is the worst sinner in the world and she often goes to church. "If she entered a church, trusting to share the Sabbath smile of the Universal Father, it was often her mishap to find herself the text of the discourse”. From her conducts we see that she has faith in God and believes "Heaven would show mercy but the strength to take advantage of it”. Gospel emphasizes that “salvation is not because of repentance, admitting guilt, praying or something else, and it is faith that can save you forever”.
It is through her conducts and faith that she is saved finally. For all the charities she has done, people try to accept her. The letter “A”，someone regards it as “Able” and even others think it means “Angel”. "In the lapse of the helpful, thoughtful and self-devoted years that make up Hester’s final years, the scarlet letter ceases to be a stigma which stands for only scorn and bitterness, and becomes a type of something to be sorrowed over, and treated with awe, yet with reverence too”(Jun Liu, Biblical Interpretation of Hester’s Sin)
Though a sinner, Hester did not give up her persist to remedy her wrong doings. She accepted the punishment bravely, ready and willing to help others at any moment. Her experience makes her a compassionate maternal figure at the end of the novel; the changing of the meaning of the scarlet letter “A” from “Adultery” to “Able”“Admirable” “Angel ” is also a testimony of the rebirth of Hester. Hester’s firm religious belief supports her to accept her punishment. The Bible points out that after experiencing lots of hardships, humankind can return to the paradise after death, by means of atoning for the original sin. Hester is a pious believer of Christian and believes that she can get rid of evil in her heart through her atoning, and receive salvation from her suffering definitely. So the fact that she did not leave New England is not only because of her lover, but also because of her religious belief. She always goes to the church, trusting to share the Sabbath smile of the Universal Father. From this conduct, we can feel her belief in God. She wants to share God’s love with others. She lived alone in the dismal society despite she didn’t belong to the society. She saw the society from another aspect and got many clear, special and unique views of the world, but she didn’t rebel. She endured all kinds of sufferings and did good deeds to atone for her sin. At last, she received the forgiveness from God and recognition of her fellow men. The shame attached her was gone and she became a sage at the end of the novel. Her kind humanity makes her ready and willing to give help to others out of the prison, she dwells in the out shirt of the town and lives on needle works as a kind of exile. Her reputation as an outcast and loner causes a certain aura to be cast around her. In spite of her excellent needlework, she is never called upon to make a bridal gown due to her reputation. In addition, Hester becomes an outcast that even the children mock, causing her more pain. However, in spite of the poor treatment of the people around, she spends time making clothes for the poor. Meditation, confession and solitary living become her actual living style. Through decades of years, Hester’s reputation changed and becomes famous throughout the community for her help with the poor and sick. Her devotion to serving the sick and needy has given her access to almost every home, and humiliation finally lets the letter “A” become a symbol of morality.
Chapter 2 Hester as a Rebel
2.1 Scorning the holy God
Hester Prynne's first rebellion against Puritanism gave a heavy punch upon god. God was considered to be super nature in the Puritans' mind all the time. Hester Prynne was condemned to wear a red letter "A" on her breast and suffer public shame on the scaffold. She rebelled it, by an action marked with natural dignity and force of character, and stepped into the open air, as if by her own "free will". From this, we can see that she scorned the "town beadle". "This personage prefigured and represented in his aspect the whole dismal severity of the puritan is code of law, which was his business to administer in its final and closest application to offender". At the same time, she despised the governor Bllingham who was regarded as the symbol of Puritanism and the representative of God.”…for the remainder of her natural life up on her bosom", this judge was decided by the local authorities according to the "God's will". However, in the first place, it is obvious that Hester did not feel that she had sinned against God, partly this was because God had never been a very real presence in her life. When the magistrate wants to take her child away from her. Governor Bellington said to her "...by trusting as immoral soul, such as there is in the child, to the guidance of one who hath stumbled and fallen, amid the pitfalls of this world." This starts Hester's rebelling against Puritanism again. When the governor questioned Hester "...what canst you do for the child?" Hester, laying her finger on the red token, answered.”I have learned from this." "God gave her into my keeping"." I will not give her up." Her voice raised almost to a shriek. All these words signify her minds. She felt that the letter had "endowed her with a new sense" that” it gave her a sympathetic knowledge of the hidden sin in other hearts". With Dimmesdale’s interference, Hester succeeded in keeping her Pearl with her. This is real victory for her and present that she does not believe in God but herself And ever since then, her position has changed from a passive one to a positive one.
So in her mind, God could not be holy being, judge, king, even cannot be the warrior of hers. On the contrast, she thought God had revolted her. So Hester Prynne's response to the letter "A" was a positive one .At first it is a token of shame, "Adultery", but then the genuine sympathy and help Hester offered to her fellow villagers changed it to "Able." Later in the story, the letter A appears in the sky, signifying "Angel". They are all the Hester Prynne's spiritual rebellions against God. They are all Hester Prynne's success to God and Puritanism.
2.2 Enjoying her desires
Hester Prynne's rebellion against Puritanism could be sensed by her enjoying desires The most obvious evident in the story was that she dared to break a law to love Dimmesdale. Furthermore, she persisted in loving him when he was in danger. This was a kind of harmony. And we could see that her rebellion in this phase was argued in a high level In that society, Hester should have kept adherence to her husband even she had not a bit love for him. And furthermore, she should kill her natural love within her, instead of letting it released and spoil such a decent settlement at Boston. But Hester Prynne shook off such Puritanical bondage and love whom she really love bravely. She didn't control her desires intentionally. She did everything that she thought being worth. She rebelled against too many reasons .The love between Hester and Dimmesdale was undoubtedly a violation of both God's law and social law, but it did not violate the natural law. It was true love between human beings. It was not sinful thing for them to love each other .On the contrary, the strict moral codes of an intolerant society, which was depicted as the Puritan New England, would only lead to cruelty and tragedy, and was immoral and sinful That was a suppression of humanity. Therefore, in Hester Prynne's opinion, her love to Dimmesdale was with dignity and grace.
In the Puritanical society, who would succeed and who would fail is not determined by himself or Herself, but by God. Man is divided into two groups. And the bad people could not save or relieve herself until she appealed to God's help. This idea is truth and cannot be changed in the Puritanical society. It is a holy idea. However, Hester Prynne did not. She was an exception and she changed it through her deeds. She was publicly showed in the market because she was regarded as a crime. But she saved herself through her hard working and helping her neighbors, even the people who ever had taunted her. Hester was isolated as an outcast to live in a remote cottage outside Boston with her infant child, Pearl With her fine needling work and patience, she earned a living for her and her child. At lash she won the admirations of the local people and the letter A became the symbol of honor, rather than the "adultery", which was original meaning. So Hester Prynne saved her by herself rather than by God. This is also Hester Prynne's rebellion against Puritanism.
2.3 Pursing individual freedom
Hester Prynne's revolt against Puritanism could also be reflected by her pursuit of individual freedom. The ideal society of Puritanism was "Holy Community". So everyone of the "Holy Community" must comply with rules of Puritanism. They did not allow anyone to break away with the "Holy Community"，let alone to revolt it. But Hester Prynne did it. She fell in love with Dimmesdale to purse her love freedom, which is endowed by nature. She dare hate the governor Bellingham and other authorities. She dares to break away from her husband whom she did not love at all Hester Prynne as a woman full of passion love and sorrow could be seen from the whole story. She never neglected such human values as individuality, personal freedom, and private life. She had her own secret “...speak out the name! That, and thy repentance, may avail to take the scarlet letter off thy breast…” But she said "Never". She used individual rights and regarded them as weapons to fire the Puritanism. She had a daughter and raised her by herself Hester Prynne's daughter Pearl, the writer portrayed her with following features she was individual exist and escaped far from the puritan society. She was a wild rose, abeam of sunlight a brook, and a lovely angel The appearance of Pearl as Hester Prynne's daughter who was gifted so many virtues is a rebellion against Puritanism obviously. At lash Pearl visited Europe and gained her happiness It is Hester Prynne's win to Puritanism, natural law's win to God's law, humanism's win to Puritanism.
Hester Prynne's rebellion against Puritanism can be seen from how to judge the truth. In the Puritan's mind, what God said must be true. God cannot make any mistakes, even in fact the Puritanism ideas are wrong. Hester Prynne does not. She judges the truth by facts rather than by God. Although Hester suffered enormously from the shame of her public disgrace accept the Puritan interpretation of her act. Because she does not believe that she did an evil thing. She retains herself respect and survives her punishment with dignity, grace, and ever growing strength of character. In her own heart, her love was justified from the beginning. Though she suffered she never actually repented. She also refused to think of escaping to the Old World. She had own "manifest destiny". She must stay in the Puritan society to justify her sin to insinuate into the Puritan society dignity, and the right to purse happiness She kept wearing the scarlet letter even when: "...not the sternest magistrate of that iron period would have imposed it. ", because it was the badge of symbolizing her victory over the Puritan society. By her quiet and patient work in the oppressive community, she virtually acted as Hutchinson to preach a new religion, which is the truth is judged by facts but not by the God. And she is waiting for justified treat all the time.
From the above five points, Hester Prynne scorns the God, enjoys her desires freely, purses her individual freedom, saves herself and judges the truth by facts. We can conclude that Hester Prynne reforms the old world and creates a new world, which is quite different from the Puritan society. She succeeds to do this because she is quite popular with her neighbors at last who at first treated her badly.
Chapter 3 Hester as an Angle
3.1 Helping the Poor
Her moral growth still faces a severe ordeal when she decides to leave Boston with Dimmesdale and Dimmesdale's death after confession on the scaffold makes her understand her fate completely. Her passion is suppressed again. So after she has found a good destination for Pearl in Europe she returns to Boston and continues her simple life there. Besides continuing her good deeds to help others she even becomes a counselor to enlighten people who suffer sorrows and perplexities. She uses the moral of her own experiences to comfort and counsel them. Many years later in Hester's gravestone there's a scarlet letter A. People has different speculation for its meaning: “Able” or “Angel” and other similar meanings but nobody will associate it with adultery. Hester has saved her own soul and achieved her moral growth through her deeds.
In addition to character and passion Hester's sin is also related to her moral view. "The Scarlet letter is not a praise of a Hester Prynne sinning, but a hymn on the moral growth of the woman when sinned against." Firstly, her weak moral sense can't stop her committing the sin and then after she has been punished and expiated the sin for years her moral view has been well strengthened.
Young Hester is reckless and lacks moral responsibility. And when Hester commits the sin of Adultery her defects inmorality shows obviously. Even when her sin is exposed she still doesn't feel remorse for she doesn't think her love for Dimmesdale is false. So when she is taken to the scaffold for the sentence in public her uncooperative performance indicates her stand. She even uses gold thread to embroider the letter A to show her resentment towards the rigid puritan rules. Of course Hester does not plan a sin deliberately nor does she willfully do injury to others. "Her fault was that her passion, and her love, were stronger than her respect for the moral code."
However, Hester fully acknowledges her sin of adultery and boldly displays it to the world that indicates her conscience is still existent. And Chilling worth’s appearance that makes her know how deep her guilt is.
As a result she accepts the punishment upon her resolutely and begins to do good deeds to expiate her sin. After being released she chooses a small thatched cottage as her residence. There she wears the coarsest materials and leads a simple life. In fact her ascetic way of life is a kind of penance. The most important thing is that she helps others without the intention of making profits. "Her life eventually acquires a real significance when she reestablishes a meaningful relationship with her fellowmen."
Her moral development is gradual, imperceptive coupled with the development of the scarlet letter's meanings. "At first it is a token of shame," `Adultery" but then the genuine sympathy and help Hester offered to her fellow villagers changes it to ‘Able’.” Later in the story, the letter A appears in the sky, signifying "Angel".
3.2 Influencing the people around her
Although Hester becomes a victim of the society, religion and her personal weakness, her silence and solitude reflects a meaning of resistance and rebellion. the is an unyielding woman not reconcile to the manipulation of destiny. the has a firm disposition, never vent grievances, and never bed for people’s pity and forgiveness. She has been longing for a normal life, longing for a sincere love. Just Hester’s intense resistant consciousness serves as a contrast to Dimmeusdale’s weakness. He is either a victim of the religion force or a victim of character of himself. As a priest, Dimmensdale cannot strictly observe religious discipline, although exceeding bounds, he cannot be carefree. He wants to atone for his guilty but have no courage. The religion domination and his weakness bring about his suffering. Hester undertakes all responsibilities by herself, while Dimmensdale is immersed in huge pains and cannot give any help and support. Hawthorne’s purpose is shaking man’s dominant status and letting many more people think women's status in the history".
Meanwhile, Hester’s resistance reflects Hawthorne’s transformation sense. Hawthorn approved for Hester's struggle for freedom, happiness and pure love. He describes Hester’s process of revolting Puritan society and process of striving for love. In Hawthorn's eves, the marriage between Hester and l:hilliugcvorth is approved and protected by Puritan society but not reasonable by nature, even not according with human nature. The letter “A” embodies the natural instincts of constrained women, gives expression to Hester’s affirmation to life’s value. In the novel, Hester’s isolated resistance cannot change the old social order, also cannot east off colony's old life style. At last, Hawthorne endowed Hester a mission, which is reforming the masses. Hester usually helps and comforts the unfortunate, especially women who feel puzzled in love, reveling them good future and give them hopes.
In the development process of human society, people tm" to reform the outmoded thoughts increasingly in order to promote society's progress. But it is impossible for an isolated resistance to reform the society basically. Hawthorn reflects that outmoded thought exists not only in social system but also in the deep heart of the masses. Hester's seeking for love process does not enjoy a loving life but suffer hostility and harsh treatment. Her pains are also in the isolation. For seven years, she has been completely cut off by the society, suffering solitude both in body and spirit.
From Hawthorn's point of view, Hester's pains reflect human beings' costs in promoting society's progress. In the course of casting off traditional ties and promoting society's progress, human beings must pay heavy costs, that is they must lose laugh and love, must suffer through isolation and pain.
The Scarlet letter was published in the middle 1900 s, a time before American Civil War. The old and new forces were haggling intensely. Women’s liberation movements were rising clay by clay. The society is faced with a profound transformation. When Hawthorn set to write this novel, there is a revolution sense in his heart. He portrayed Hester as a bright and full new woman, then gradually denied her and portrayed her again into a traditional model, not letting herself, so that, so that she becomes a downright old woman.
Hawthorne skillfully connected his practical life with the 17th century which Hester lives in. By the connection of the imaginary" and the real world, of the history" reality and future, he presents Hester to the readers, letting generations of people think about.
From the feminist perspective, Hawthorne succeeds in creating a woman beyond her own age. Meanwhile, Hawthorne presents us the women's social positions and the relationship between males and females in a man-authorized society. Although a male-writer, Hawthorne does give his compassion to Hester who suffers the prejudice and discrimination in the puritan society. Tough as the situation is, Hester never yields.
As the story of The Scar0let Letter goes, it can be known that Hester is an exceedingly distinctive and unique woman while compared with her contemporaries or those traditional ones. Extremely as she has suffered from the shame of her public disgrace and the isolation fo her punishment, she still possesses her dignity, never gives up and remains in full public view without shedding a tear. After her affair is exposed, Hester is determined to stand alone no matter how hard the punishment is just because she wants to protect her lover Dimmesdale. And in her deep heart, she holds the faith that her love to Dimrnesdale is of dignity and grace. And she manages to live by herself with her fine needlework and be independent on economy. Hester is a woman with feminist consciousness who never falls but fights against the evil forces continually. She dares to face her existence as a human being, and as a woman in particular, all of which makes her a woman beyond her own age.
In traditional novels, men are usually heroes and hold the position of subjectivity. However, unlike his contemporary male writers, Hawthorne presents us a heroin instead of a hero. And Hester is depicted as a feminist pioneer. Her pursuit of true love, her rebellious spirits to protect her lover and her daughter, her generosity to help the needy people and her independent consciousness win her the respect and admiration from the critics. From their perspectives, Hester becomes the center of the community through her own continual efforts. She is a beautiful woman within dependent spirits.
All of her actions mentioned in this essay indubitably crystallize Hester's noble character of rebellious spirits, self-reliance and strong will, which are advocated by the feminists. We can safely draw the conclusion that Hester who is with the feminist consciousness has become a woman beyond her own age. Hester is unforgettable not only because she is Hawthorne's first real female protagonist but also because she becomes the representative of a new female image.
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