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Hester Prynne’s Development Essay, Research Paper

Hester Prynne’s Development Hester Prynne, through the eyes of the Puritans, is an extreme sinner; she has gone against the Puritan ways, committing adultery. In the town of Boston where the story takes place, this sin is among the worst for the Puritan community. For this irrevocably harsh sin, she must wear a symbol of shame for the rest of her life. But this trial in Hester’s life forces her to mature. The character of Hester Prynne changed significantly throughout the novel. From the beginning, we see that Hester Prynne is a young and beautiful woman who has brought a child into the world with an unknown father. She is punished by Puritan society by wearing the scarlet letter ‘A’ on the bosom of her dress and standing on the scaffold for three hours. Her hair is a glossy brown and her eyes deep-set; her attire is rich, complimenting her attractive figure. The scaffold is a painful task to bear; the townspeople gathered around to gossip and stare at Hester and her newborn child, whom she suitably named Pearl, named because of her extreme value to her mother. In the disorder of faces in the crowd, young Hester Prynne sees the face of a man she once was fiercely familiar with, whom we later learn is her true husband, Roger Chillingworth. Her subjection to the crowd of Puritan onlookers is excruciating to bear, and Hester holds the child to her heart, a symbolic comparison between the child and the scarlet letter, implying that they are truly both intertwined. Prynne is imprisoned with her child, both of whom are emotionally and physically exhausted from the punishment at the scaffold. The husband, Roger Chillingworth, passes by and is commissioned to be the physician to the two, and remedy them of their sicknesses. She is surprised he had come at such a time where she was at a point of such horrendous turmoil. He demands that she cannot reveal his identity, yet he also wishes to know the identity of her lover, the father of the child. She refuses to tell him. Later in the novel, we discover that Arthur Dimmesdale is the confidential lover. Hester is released from her cell, after which she resides for the next few years in a hut by the sea. Her child, Pearl, is a terribly behaved child, that is indifferent to the strict Puritan society. Pearl is a pain to please, having her way all the time because of her mother’s failure to subdue her to the proper Puritan etiquette. The novel explains that the Governors repeatedly attempt to take the child away from Hester, as she has been deemed unfit to raise the child without the influence of genuine Puritan law and order. These attempts are failed, for Arthur Dimmesdale, the father and minister of Hester Prynne, insists that the child is a bond, a necessity of the young woman who has nothing if she does not have the child. Another influence upon Hester is Mistress Ann Hibbens, who is reputed to be a witch throughout the community. When Hibbens asks Hester to join her in the forest at night to sign the Black Man’s book with her own blood, she insists that she cannot. But if her little Pearl would be taken away, she would gladly join the “witch-lady” in the forest that night, and sign the great book in her own blood.

Pearl goes on about her unrestrained ways, throwing rocks at other children that look at her the wrong way and swearing at them. It pains Hester to watch her child go about the world without companions, for she loves the child. When Chillingworth is at the beach picking up plants for formulas to cure Dimmesdale, who is deteriorating in health, he talk to Hester. He mentions that the magistrates may let her remove the scarlet letter, but she declines. Hester is strong with her letter, having it be a part of her for so many years, and she is willing to take her punishment of wearing it for she knows that she deserves it. Later in the novel, when Chillingworth is at his height of having his way with Dimmesdale, the weakened minister, Hester and Arthur meet in the forest to discuss their future. Here in the forest, Hester removes the scarlet letter, and drops it on the ground. She then removes her cap, letting her beautiful, glossy brown hair shine in the rays of the forest sunlight. Here, Hester Prynne has made a significant change from her somber, drab appearance, to her beauty of days long passed. However, after feeling rejuvenated, she is disappointed to see that her own child, Pearl, will not recognize her change, and, demands that her mother bind the “badge of sin” back upon her bosom. She then goes back to business, telling her beloved Arthur that she will set sail with him and Pearl to England after the Election Day sermon, which Dimmesdale is to speak at. Soon enough, however, the drama unfolds as Chillingworth discovers that the trio are boarding a boat across the sea after the Election Day, and he books himself up to travel with them, since he is obsessed with torturing Dimmesdale. Then, the big day came, and Hester was gleaming with joy in anticipation of a new life without ridicule or guilt. After preaching a powerful sermon, the good minister was walking along with the crowd, when he felt the weight of an overbearing guilt upon his shoulders; a power that he had felt before had grown immensely domineering upon his frail frame. Hester comforted him to the scaffold, and stuck by him to the end, as he admitted his sin of adultery, which shocked the people of Boston, leaving many with their jaws dropped. Eventually, Hester did move back to England with her daughter, and she stayed there for many years. But after Pearl got married, and Chillingworth was long dead, Hester Prynne returned to Boston. The townspeople came to her, some staring in awe, some revering her presence. She had changed so much after she had taken the first step onto the Boston scaffold. After death, she was buried near her lover, Arthur Dimmesdale. On her tombstone, the letter ‘A’ was printed, but the legacy that Hester Prynne left behind made it clear that what it stood for was no longer its original symbolism: Hester was truly an able women.


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