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Character analysis of Hester Prynne Essay

The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne is a complex novel with in depth characterization. This analysis is about Hester Prynne, the main character and focuses on three of her attitudes, appearance, and morals.

Hester’s physical appearance is developed and referred to often throughout the novel. Hawthorne paints a picture for the reader of Hester’s beauty.

She had dark and abundant hair, so glossy that it through off the sunshine with a gleam and a face regularity of features and riches of complexion, and the impressiveness belonging to a marked brow and deep black eyes. (Hawthorne, 50)

The author also describes Hester as being of modest decorum. “With almost serene deportment, therefore, Hester Prynne passed through this portion of her ordeal, came to a sort of scaffold, at the western extremity of the marketplace. (Hawthorne, 52) As the story is told, the author often refers to Hester’s attitude as well as her appearance.

Hester is portrayed as having a strong will and attitude in the Scarlet Letter. She kept her spirits high even when she thought she faced death. She managed to maintain her strength throughout her battles.

With her native energy of character and rare capacity, it could not entirely cast her off, although it had set a mark upon her, more intolerable to a woman’s heart than that which branded the brow of Cain. In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it. every gesture, every word, and even the silence of those with whom she came in contact, implied and often expressed, that she inhabited another sphere, or communicated with the common nature by other organs and senses than the rest of human kind. She stood apart from mortal interests, yet close beside them, like a ghost that revisits the familiar foresides, and can no longer make itself seen of felt. (Hawthorne, 77-78)

Hester’s attitude is directly related to her morals.

Miss Prynne’s morals are not as easy to determine as her attitude. When analyzing her situation, the reader might not be able to see that Hester has morals. The facts of her troubles lay a ground work for this belief. In reality, the novel does show that Hester Prynne has morals and values.

In this matter of Hester Prynne, there was neither irritation nor irksomeness. She never battled with the public, but submitted, uncomplainingly, to its worst usage; she made no claim upon it, inequitable for what she suffered; she did not weigh up in its sympathies. Then, also, blameless purity of her life during all these years in which she had been set apart to infamy, was reckoned largely in her favor. With nothing now to lose, in the sight of mankind, and with no hope, and seemingly no wish of gaining anything, it could only bed genuine regard for virtue that had brought back the poor wanderer to its paths. (Hawthorne, 145)

Nathanial Hawthorne shows sin this quote that although Hester is in an uncomfortable situation, she maintains the higher standards of the society. The author uses vivid descriptions to portray the characters in the novel. When describing Hester Prynne, Hawthorne establishes the type of person she is through her appearance, attitude and morals.


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